Editorial voices from around Pennsylvania as compiled by the Associated Press:
For much of 2014, the Observer-Reporter has been exploring Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, looking at people who live in Washington and Greene counties who are struggling with these conditions, caregivers who tend to their needs and the wider impact Alzheimer’s and dementia have on the community.
With a surge in the number of elderly Americans expected in the decades ahead, thanks to the graying of baby boomers and expanding life spans, no one will be able to escape Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even if you, or someone you love, never develop either condition, chances are a neighbor or acquaintance will. In any event, everyone will be paying for it.
According to projections from the Alzheimer’s Association, $150 billion has come out of the coffers of Medicare and Medicaid this year to cover the care of those with the disease. Barring a cure, or improved ways of keeping the disease at bay, that number will reach $900 billion – in today’s dollars – by 2050. In the 40-year span between 2010 and 2050, America will spend somewhere around $20 trillion on Alzheimer’s disease.
The way to bring that number down is to make investments now.
There are hopeful signs that will happen. The recent spending bill approved by Congress and signed by President Obama included a $25 million increase in Alzheimer’s research. For 2014, it was increased by $122 million. All told, the annual total spent by Washington, D.C., on Alzheimer’s is now $591 million. A hefty amount, to be sure. But keep in mind that the Pentagon pours billions upon billions of dollars into weapons systems that rapidly speed toward obsolescence and we hope to never use.
Also included in the recent spending bill was the Alzheimer’s Accountability Act, in which Congress has pledged to use input from scientists and researchers to guide spending decisions on Alzheimer’s, rather than be influenced by shifting winds or special interests.
Sad, isn’t it, that it takes something like Alzheimer’s to bring this kind of accord between Republicans and Democrats?
But the reality is that Alzheimer’s disease is perhaps the ultimate bipartisan issue. It strikes regardless of where someone stands on the political spectrum, and shows no preference for socioeconomic status or any other circumstance in life. Former President Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s disease in his waning days, as did Canonsburg native son Perry Como, the painter Norman Rockwell and the composer Aaron Copland. Unlike such killers as heart disease or cancer, where people can sometimes take actions throughout their lives to prevent them or hold them off, Alzheimer’s disease can claim those who have done all the “right things.”
The title of the Observer-Reporter series, “No Longer Me,” appropriately encapsulates the essence of Alzheimer’s disease. It ultimately leads to death, but it’s a death that happens day by day. As memories evaporate, the ability to navigate through life and engage in the simplest tasks fades. Someone’s personality, the talents, ideas and tendencies that made them who they were, die off before the physical body gives way. It’s perhaps hardest of all on people who love someone with Alzheimer’s, who are left to grieve for them even while they are still alive.
As the series ends, we leave you with this thought: Imagine it’s Dec. 28, 2114, 100 years from today. Someone is looking at archived copies of this newspaper on microfilm, or whatever other method will preserve our work long after we’re gone, and they stumble onto the stories in this edition on Alzheimer’s disease. Wouldn’t it be great if they have to find out what exactly that malady was, since, by then, it will have long since been vanquished?
Editorial voices from newspapers around the country as compiled by the Associated Press:
Tobacco products generate huge amounts of revenue for state governments.
But how much of that money goes to smoking prevention efforts and helping smokers quit?
Far too little, a coalition of health organizations reports.
This fiscal year, states will collect $25.6 billion in revenue from tobacco taxes and the tobacco settlement agreement, which was reached in 1998 and continues to provide funds to states through 2025. But states will spend only about 2 percent of that on prevention and smoking cessation, according to a study sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and others.
In West Virginia almost 20 percent of high school students smoke and 27 percent of adults, the highest rates in the country. Kentucky is not far behind at 18 percent for students and 26 percent for adults, and Ohio is only slightly better at 15 percent and 23 percent.
Meanwhile, all three states spend less than 3 percent of their tobacco tax revenue on prevention and cessation. Florida, on the other hand, has a well-funded prevention effort and statistics that show it is working. The high school smoking rate there has dropped to 7.5 percent. If West Virginia could reduce teen smoking to that level, it would prevent 68,520 teens from becoming adult smokers and save $1.2 billion in future health care costs, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia projects.
The Common Core State Standards – a set of K-12 education goals for reading and math adopted by Ohio and more than 40 other states and the District of Columbia – should not be repealed by the Ohio General Assembly.
The standards enable teachers to better prepare Ohio’s students for higher education and the workplace. They provide colleges with an apples-to-apples comparison of Ohio’s students to their peers nationwide.
The standards also provide consistent performance baselines to evaluate year-to-year progress in Ohio’s public schools.
Does the fate of the United States economy rely principally on how much Americans buy during the Christmas season? That’s what many media commentators might lead us to believe. December retail sales might be an indicator of the health of the nation’s economy, but they’re not......