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DHP on The Today Show

THE TODAY SHOW (TV program - NBC) with host Matt Lauer and Katie Couric April 3, 2001

Interviewed by Matt Lauer. David was wearing a black suit, with a white shirt, and a gray and white striped tie. He was interviewed along with Alzheimer's patient Frank Carlino. (I didn't transcribe his bit. The interview was 5 minutes if that. - Tané)

Matt Lauer:   According to a new study this devastating disease has the potential to cripple Medicare and Medicaid if it reaches projected epidemic rates. David Hyde Pierce, the actor and long-time activist is among those testifying. Frank Carlino is suffering from Alzheimer's. Gentlemen, good morning to both of you.
David Hyde Pierce:   Hi Matt.
Frank Carlino:   Good morning.
MATT:   Good morning David. Let me start with you, because I would imagine most people understand what's happening in terms of Alzheimer's today and the impact on individual families, but, this new study presents some frightening predictions as to what we may be seeing in the next 5 or 10 years. Tell me about that.
DAVID:   Well, the first thing is not a prediction. It's the expense we're already incurring. We're already spending $ 31.9 billion through Medicare on just treating people with Alzheimer's. And states are spending about $18.2 billion now for Medicaid. Just for nursing home costs, again for Alzheimer's patients. Those numbers should skyrocket up as much as 50% or 80% in the next 10 years and the scary thing is that's before my generation, the baby boom generation, hits the age where we are most likely to start getting Alzheimer's disease. So we are already in danger of bankruptcy long before that crisis hits.
MATT:   And so when you testify before the Senate Subcommittee today you're asking Lets, you're saying Hey, let's spend the money now, let's not spend the money later. This is a matter of economics to you.
DAVID:   You know, I am talking about the economics but it's not a matter of economics to me. It's a matter of having seen my family members suffering through this, and friends, knowing that if I'm going to get Alzheimer's disease, if any of the rest of my family is going to get it, it's already started it's work in my brain now. That's the timeline that I'm I think most aware of. But yes, it's also a financial crisis.
MATT:   You talk about your personal connection. Make me understand exactly how you came to be involved with Alzheimer's disease.
DAVID:   My grandfather died of Alzheimer's disease and so I had to watch him disappear and also watched how it really destroyed my grandmother's life as well. And so when the Association came to me and asked for my help, I didn't need to be asked twice. And in the time I've been working with them my own Dad, who passed away a few years ago, also had developed dementia. And I just found out that his sister, who died last year, also had it so . . .
MATT:   I want to talk to Frank Carlino a little bit about living with Alzheimer's but you just mentioned something David, and I want to go back to you on it. You talked about the impact on your grandmother and your other parts of your family once certain members did come down with Alzheimer's. Tell me a little bit about how it impacts caregivers and loved ones.
DAVID:   Well, statistically, people who are caregivers are so much more likely to become ill, to require special medications to deal with the incredible stress of dealing with this disease. Because not only are you watching someone you love pass away, but you're also having to deal with the fact that they're losing their recognition of who you are. And so there's incredible emotional and psychological stress added to the normal caregivers problems.

MATT talks to Frank Carlino

MATT:   David, you are talking about getting more funding for research, obviously that's the way to prevent this from spreading. Where does that money come from, I mean, are you going to have to take away from research into something else to provide research for Alzheimer's?
DAVID:   Well in a sense, I suppose although you know, there is a surplus now, and there is money to be spent on what we feel as a country is most important, and certainly the research on Alzheimer's benefits other areas just as research in other areas benefits Alzheimer's, things like Parkinson's. So I think the most important thing for all us us is to face our future when we look at things like the tax rebate, and how to spend the surplus if there is one, and to think what our future will be like if there's a future with Alzheimer's disease. And, ah, just something to bear in mind.
MATT:   David Hyde Pierce, good luck with your testimony. Mr. Carlino, good luck to you as well. We appreciate you both talking to us this morning.
CARLINO:   Thank you very much.
DAVID:   Thanks Matt.

Registered by Tané on 4/3/01. All rights reserved, no copying of ANY parts without Tané's expressed permission!

Thanks Tané for a wonderful job. As always, it is much appreciated.

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