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'Family Disease'

March 16, 1986

I was glad to read a clarification of President Reagan's instructions to Secretary of Health and Human Services Otis R. Bowen to study "the devastating cost of catastrophic illness" on American families (Times, March 5), "Help in Catastrophic Illness."

I am concerned specifically with the plight of Alzheimer victims and their families, especially as I read recently that one of the cuts recommended to balance the budget is in Alzheimer research funds.

The physical, emotional and financial burdens on the families of Alzheimer victims is indeed devastating. There is no Medicare coverage for this disease, and until recently there was no help at all for the Alzheimer victim in need of nursing home care. At last a couple of insurance companies have come up with a short-term package, but it is expensive and not enough for the patient who outlives his or her insurance.

Alzheimer's is truly a "family disease." Let us hope that Dr. Bowen's recommendations to the President will address this urgent need.

SILVIA B. ESTABROOK

Los Alamitos

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