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Apr 24, 2017 04:12 AM EDT

There is continued progress in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, which has affected millions of Americans this year. Maria C. Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer's Association said on Friday that research is the key to adequately address the debilitating condition.

During the seventh annual Caregiver's Journey Conference at the association's Rhode Island chapter, a crowd of 700 scientists, caregivers, students and health-care providers and professionals to attended at the Crowne Plaza. Carrillo's presentation showed statistics and data on Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.

Her research, supported by studies from their Rhode Island branch showed 5.5 million Americans of all ages will have Alzheimer's in 2017. Alzheimer's is also the sixth-leading cause of death in America. It has proven to be invariably fatal after the slow cognitive decline and memory loss stage.

Providence Journal reported that two-thirds of Alzheimer's victims are mostly women, for reasons science does not yet comprehend. The association found that more than 15 million caregivers provide more than 18 billion hours of free care to their loved ones annually.

The National Institutes of Health invests nearly $1 billion every year for Alzheimer's research, which is the most dollars any entity in the world. The second-largest spender is the Chinese Ministry of Health, followed by the Alzheimer's Association. These organizations have realized the true importance of funding research and have been committed ever since.

The Caregiver's Journey Conference was sponsored by Dave's Marketplace. The Rhode Island Alzheimer's Disease Research Conference was sponsored by the University of Rhode Island's George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute and the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center.

Alzheimer's and dementia scientists from URI and Brown University also participated in the event, such as internationally prominent Paula Grammas lead researcher from the Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, and Dr. Stephen P. Salloway, of Brown and Butler Hospital.

Carrillo said significant increases in research funding are coming and change will come. She encourages everyone to keep up the fight locally and nationally as Congress holds the key to research expenditures.

Follows Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's Association, Maria C. Carrillo, Caregiver's Journey Conference, Rhode Island, Crowne Plaza, Chinese Ministry of Health, The National Institutes of Health, Brown University, Ryan Institute for Neuroscience
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