The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease will double to 14 million by 2060, costing an estimated $1 trillion to care for those struggling with the condition.
Currently, there isn't a national, coordinated plan to address the impending crisis, which could cripple the nation’s health care system.
Health reporter Erin Billups takes a look at work underway to build better national support around Alzheimer's prevention and care that would help expand New York's programming as well.
When Patricia Hartnett completely forgot about a lunch date with a close friend in 2015, she realized her forgetfulness was more than just a personality quirk.
"My friend was like in the pelting rain and I'd sent her there and forgot to go meet her for the afternoon. And it was just something that was unthinkable in my universe," said Hartnett.
Her Alzheimer's diagnosis came as a blow to her and her family members, who are still trying to reconcile the inevitability of the progressive brain disorder that slowly kills memory and function with who Hartnett is. She was the first woman from South Carolina to graduate from Harvard University, and later went on to be a corporate lawyer.
"She's a wonderful mother," said her husband, Peter Fabricant, "and a wonderful grandmother, and I just feel like I lose a little bit of her every day."
Hartnett needs daily assistance. She is on medication, and is participating in clinical trials.
Thinking of other families like theirs, the Fabricants say a bigger, national response is needed.
"I think we should be further along with Alzheimer's research for sure. This is not an issue just for the elderly people in our community. It's for all of us," said Rebecca Fabricant, Harnett’s daughter.
It seems there is momentum surrounding the impending health crisis. Maine Senator Susan Collins introduced the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act last November. The bill would allow the CDC to create a public health infrastructure as annual government spending on Alzheimer's research is set to break $2 billion, the highest yet.
The legislation looks to more efficiently bridge advances in treatment to patients and better support caregivers.
"The other side of this is prevention, early detection. And that is what the bold infrastructure is all about. It's about not just waiting until you have those cures, but working now on things that we know can be effective," said Keith Fargo, the Alzheimer’s Association's scientific programs and outreach director.
There is wide bipartisan support in both houses. The Senate health committee is set to vote on the measure this fall.
While lawmakers haggle out the details, the fight for loved ones continues in millions of homes.
"We're going to rage against the dying of the light as long as we can," said Mr. Fabricant.