AREA NEWSThe White Plains Examiner

Lowey, White Plains Hospital Push for Alzheimer’s Funding

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Nita Lowey
Congresswoman Nita Lowey is pushing for more Alzheimer's funding

The country’s fiscal troubles should not put federal funding for Alzheimer’s research and awareness at risk, local officials argued last Wednesday at a listening session at White Plains Hospital.

Rep. Nita Lowey and State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins each attended the session with Lowey, a Democrat from Harrison, stressing that funding for Alzheimer’s research should be bipartisan.

“Although we have to keep an eye and do something about the long-term debt and do something about the yearly deficit, investing in the National Institutes of Health, whether it’s Alzheimer’s, heart, diabetes, cancer, and I can go on and on, saves us money in the long run,” Lowey argued. “So beware when you hear public officials talking about cutting, look and see what they’re cutting.”

In 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which created a national plan to battle Alzheimer’s. This year, Obama called for $100 million to implement the plan.

At Wednesday’s session in the White Plains Hospital Centennial Room, Frances Pantaleo of the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association noted the importance of the funding. She pointed out that Alzheimer’s is the country’s sixth leading cause of death. The condition is responsible for approximately 80,000 deaths per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“There’s no known prevention and no known cure for this disease. At best, some medications may slow down its progress,” Pantaleo explained. “We know that we’re in a country that’s facing a lot of pressures on our budget and our economy, but it’s very, very important that this disease be a priority at the federal level.”

Dr. Raj Buddhavarapu, director of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at the hospital, said little is known about the condition.

“The cause of Alzheimer’s is being researched. We do not have much answers,” Buddhavarapu said. “There are so many theories out there, but the brain is a very complicated organ.”

With members of the Baby Boomer generation reaching their senior years and the elderly population growing in Westchester and across the country, finding ways to treat of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia is becoming increasingly crucial.

“Here at White Plains Hospital we see growing numbers of patients who are elderly, many who suffer from various degrees of dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said WPH CEO Jon Schandler. “Our ability to take care of those patients is critical.”

Stewart-Cousins also stressed the importance of raising awareness of the condition. She described her father’s battles with dementia and said knowing more about the condition might have made it easier for her family to cope.

Lowey promised to push hard for the additional funding the president has requested but said the work of local organizations like the hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association were necessary to convince federal lawmakers.

“Just because we appropriated 50 million [dollars] and the president is asking for 100 million, that doesn’t mean it happens,” she said. “Just remember that you are the power and you are the voice.”

Schandler also discussed some of the programs the hospital has for elderly patients.

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