After several years and cooperative efforts from some of the nation’s leading voices and advocates of public health, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama, January 4, 2011. This law will allow for the creation of a coordinated plan to attack the ravages of the devastating disease of Alzheimer’s. As the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, it is the only disease within the top ten that has not implemented a comprehensive plan to address its progression or construct plans towards a cure.
The process was an accomplishment in effective communication and coordination. A clear vision with a specific goal was cemented. Advisory councils were set up on both the Federal and non-Federal levels and included the weight and attention of entities such as the National Institute of Health, the Center for Disease Control, Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Care Providers and Patient Advocates.
The crucial aspect of this passage is that Assisted Living Communities are now inclusive under this law. Whereas initial drafts of this act left out this growing demographic, inclusion ensures a better understanding of the needs and challenges faced by those affected by and those that care for people with Alzheimer’s. Advocacy from the Assisted Living Federation of America and the National Alzheimer’s Association worked tirelessly and increased understanding in the housing needs of people diagnosed with dementia.
The goal of this plan is to increase funding and to optimized a system that allocates existing resources to support a multifaceted approach in patient care. This covers large scale, public and private sectors and recognizes their inclusion to achieve this goal. Because of the daunting dynamics of Alzheimer’s many voices had to be heard in order to adequately articulate some of them. There were dramatic moments in the time leading up to the passage of NAPA, as a flurry of approximately 50,000 e-mails, 10,000 telephone calls, and more than 1,000 different meetings underscored to Congress the importance of this bill.