Leadership

AARP, Turning 60, Makes Big Investment in Dementia Research

By / Jun 25, 2018 (wildpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The association for retired persons characterizes the battle against dementia, including Alzheimer’s, as one of the biggest issues facing its members. Fittingly, the association offered up a significant investment in a research fund in honor of its 60th anniversary.

As AARP hits its 60th anniversary, the famed association is taking steps to firm up its legacy—and a big part of that comes in the form of a charitable investment that’s offering up a million dollars for every year of its existence.

AARP announced Monday that it would offer up $60 million in new funding for the Dementia Discovery Fund, a charitable initiative focused on finding novel solutions to different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. AARP’s move was one of the largest portions of the charitable venture fund’s endowment, which stands at $350 million, and is now characterized by DDF as complete.

The investment by AARP highlights a long track record by the association of devoting financial and advocacy resources to issues that most deeply affect its membership, such as protecting the social safety net; speaking up for older workers, including on retirement issues; defending access to healthcare; and focusing on quality-of-life issues. Alzheimer’s, for many reasons, has emerged as one of the most concerning issues facing older Americans.

In a blog post, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins pointed out that the issue is expected to become more troubling in the coming years because of demographic changes:

For six decades, AARP has focused on finding solutions that improve the lives of older Americans, and we will continue to do so as the challenges that each generation faces change. Only 12 years from now, the first millennials will be turning 49, gen X-ers will begin turning 65, and the first boomers will be turning 84—an age at which dementia is most prevalent. By making this investment, our hope is that, by then, we can add finding a treatment and ultimately a cure for dementia to the list of battles we have won.

AARP’s funding won quick praise from at least one other association with an interest in the issue. The Alzheimer’s Association, in a news release, credited AARP, along with fellow investors United Healthcare and Quest Diagnostics, for supporting the cause.

“The new investments by these partners will focus on adding to existing drug development,” the statement said. “These are positive steps and play an important role in new drug development, especially after some larger pharmaceutical companies have reduced such plans.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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