Iowa lawmakers are being asked to invest in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Advocates say it’s the most under recognized public health issue and the only major disease with no cure. Wearing their signature purple, Iowans with Alzheimer’s and family caregivers converged for a Day at the Hill.
“Sixty-nine thousand people in Iowa have Alzheimer’s so yes, awareness is one of the reason’s we’re here,” says Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Iowa Chapter Executive Director Carol Sipfle.
The other has to do with the group’s top priority for 2013.
“What we’re hoping is that within the Iowa Department of Public Health we can create a new position, really to be an Alzheimer’s coordinator,” says Sipfle.
There`s no better advocate than John Sandblom, the 53-year-old cared for his father up until his death from the disease.
“It’s very, very personal and the impacts have been huge on my family,” says Sandblom.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.
“If more progress isn’t made, we’ll have to suffer the same kind of future I’m looking at,” he says.
The bill to create an Alzheimer’s Advisor passed the Iowa Senate last year, but didn`t make it to a vote on the House floor. The group is using lobbying day to make sure it passes both chambers this year.
“I will be working to try and get this legislation passed,” says State Senator Daryl Beall, D- Fort Dodge.
Like the others in the purple contingent, Beall has first hand knowledge of the disease. His father suffered from Alzheimer’s.
“There seems to be a debate right now about whether it goes to Public Health or to the Department of Aging,” says Beall.
“I think we’re gaining momentum so we’re going to keep fighting until we get it,” says Sipfle.
Sandblom will keep doing his part and by sharing his story, he’s putting a face on Alzheimer’s.
“It definitely makes a difference.”
The bill to create an Alzheimer’s coordinator is in the Senate Human Services Committee. It could go to the Senate floor for a vote later this month.