According to the Centers for Disease Control, Alzheimer’s is now the costliest disease in the country.
Nearly six million Americans are living with the condition. More than 16 million Americans are providing unpaid care, valued at 232 billion dollars.
It’s a disease that kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
There is no cure, and no known cause.
A gathering of people at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday wants to change all of that.
“One of the things that I struggle with the most is how to be a wife first and a caregiver second,” said Jennifer Blough, an Alzheimer’s caregiver.
Blough says she did not expect, at the age of 52, to become a caretaker for her husband, a former Vice President of J.P. Morgan Chase.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe it. I’ve gone through the denial and I’ve come to acceptance, but it was very surprising,” said Rod Blough, who is living with Alzheimer’s.
Jennifer is now the breadwinner of the family.
“I do not have a choice to not support our family, to not provide benefits for myself and out kids, and I need help taking care of Rod. Today, we’re still okay, but I can see in the next couple of years it’s going to be very different,” said Jennifer.
That’s the basis of Memory Day. They are talking to lawmakers about funding that can support Ohioans with Alzheimer’s, like the father of former Congressman Pat Tiberi.
“It’s really hard to even put your arms around when you have a loved one who’s been so vibrant and so active and so engaged. And suddenly they’re not. It’s hard. It’s really tough,” said Tiberi.
Tiberi advocated for the Older Americans Act on Capitol Hill. The Alzheimer’s Association says state lawmakers need to be advocates too.
“We’re going to see some breakthroughs at some point in the future in our lifetime. and within this state it’s for those people now with this disease and their families. What are we doing to help support them?” said Vince McGrail with the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association.