Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing — Alzheimer's disease is a threat that must be addressed.
Those who have firsthand experience dealing with a friend or family member suffering from Alzheimer's disease know what a debilitating and difficult process it is.
More than 5 million Americans already suffer from dementias like Alzheimer's, and as the American population ages, those numbers will grow. They are expected to roughly triple by 2050, an expansion that will cost a fortune in medical care and exact a terrible toll on caregivers.
Given that daunting reality, it's no surprise that policymakers and elected officials are giving growing attention to combating the problem. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has discussed an all-out medical research assault on the disease, with the goal of coming up with a cure.
That may seem grandiose, but perhaps someday Gingrich's dream will become a reality.
In the meantime, the Obama administration is preparing a national Alzheimer's plan aimed at the easing the medical and social problems caused by dementia and making improvements in treatment. The plan also is expected to take into consideration how to make life easier for caregivers, especially family members overwhelmed with the nonstop responsibility of keeping an eye on a family member or close friend suffering from this terrible disease.
There is no underestimating the difficulty of a medical campaign of this nature, both in terms of addressing the disease itself and the high costs. Alzheimer's is certainly not the nation's leading public health problem, and it will have to compete with other diseases for scarce research dollars.
But it deserves a high place on the nation's priority list, and it appears to be getting one.