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 The Harry Johns Interview (Page 5 of 5)

Gary Barg: Speaking of policy makers, what do you see Washington doing? What do you want Washington to do?

Harry Johns: We believe the policy makers should invest more in research. We believe they should also be supporting what would be integrated care approaches. We know those kinds of investments will pay off for the country. The real point is that it will pay off in such a human way with so many people who have the disease today and the rising numbers as the boomers age. We believe the greater investments, for support of care, caregiving and research, will make a difference immediately, and certainly make a huge difference both human and financial for the long-term for individuals and for the country.

We do not think that today there is that level of investment that is appropriate and commensurate with the impact of disease already now, let alone what is going to happen when we have the wave of boomers who start to get the disease. Those boomers are now 61. The incidence curve increases dramatically after 65, and we are headed for that pretty rapidly. So, we think they should do more on those specific fronts and the sooner the better for the sake of both individuals and the country.

Gary Barg: If there was just one piece of advice that you could leave Alzheimer’s caregivers with, what would you say that would be?

Harry Johns: I guess it is one of the things and I have seen it in your magazine, too—the whole idea of taking care of themselves. I think it is very easy and understandable, completely understandable, for them to become so involved in the caregiving that they do to not take care of themselves. I wind up flying a lot in this job. On every airplane I am on, the flight attendant goes through the drill at the beginning of the flight and the oxygen mask comes down. You know if you have got someone with you, whether it is a child or another dependent, the instruction is to put your mask on first because, if you lose consciousness, you cannot take care of the person you are there to take care of. That is one of the most important things any caregiver can do is to care for themselves so that not only are they well, but so that they can do the job that is so important for the person they are caring for.

 

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