BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) — 13th District Representative John Joyce held a roundtable discussion at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library about Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia affecting over six million Americans, which is expected to grow to 13 million people by 2050. This year the disease will cost the nation $321 billion.

The roundtable featured Joyce and families affected by the disease, members of the library association, and members of the Alzheimer’s Association. The families opened up to Joyce about their daily experiences with their loved ones and how they care for them.

“The most important thing I’m looking for in this discussion is to be able to lead us to the impact of how Alzheimer’s affects individuals who are affected with it and equally important is their family members that deal with this throughout every day and night,” Joyce said.

Hollidaysburg Public Library Director Janet Eldred was diagnosed with early-stage dementia ten years ago. She’s open to the community about her symptoms, including having trouble speaking and making notes everywhere.

However, Eldred is an example of the stigma involving those with Alzheimer’s that they can’t do much moving forward. Eldred has been working at the library for 18 years and loves all her involvement with the community.

“We want to be open about it to help other people who have the disease or were recently diagnosed to know that you can still do things and be part of the community,” Eldred said. “You can still work.”

That message is what Eldred wants others going through the disease to know and understand there are opportunities everywhere. She recalls all the fun times she’s had with her husband, Keith.

Another topic was having better resources be provided on a federal level. Within the past few years, the FDA authorized new drugs that help with the early stages of treatment for the disease. However, this treatment is not readily available to all Americans. Joyce wants his fellow Congress members to advocate to get more resources available to those in rural communities.

“It’s difficult for those in rural communities to access those drugs,” Joyce said. “So together, we’re working with other members of Congress to make sure there’s equity that all Americans have access to the FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s.”

In addition to the easier access, the discussion group believes that more funding will also benefit the cause. That includes continuing to have dollars put towards research to find a cure.

“One of those things is really at the federal level, ensuring we continue to provide research dollars at the National Institute of Health and increasing those critical research dollars at the NIH,” said Director of State Government Affairs Jennifer Ebersoly. “And then to invest in those scientific breakthroughs we know are on the presumptuous and to continue that funding.”

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Eldred and her husband started a campaign to honor her disease called “This is Red.” The goal of the fundraiser is to raise one million dollars to help the Hollidaysburg library. So far, they’ve raised $70,000. Donations can be made online or by check.

Eldred plans to retire within the next few weeks.