As the population ages, incidents of Alzheimer’s disease will increase, and the devastating effects will be felt by those with the disease and their caregivers. The Obama administration has recognized this growing issue, and has responded with a powerful new initiative.
Last week the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease was released at the Alzheimer’s Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention. It was written as part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), a bill signed into law by the president in 2011. In February, a portion of the 2012 federal budget was allocated for immediate use to increase research, education and public awareness—three of the plan’s goals—and funding is slated to increase in 2013 by $100 million.
According to a statement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The plan…was developed with input from experts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease issues,” including comments by CALA president Sally Michael, “and calls for a comprehensive, collaborative approach across federal, state, private and non-profit organizations.”
Among the five goals identified in the plan, two will be of primary importance to Assisted Living providers:
- Enhance Care Quality and Efficiency, including building a workforce with the skills to provide high-quality care and ensuring that people with Alzheimer’s experience safe and effective transitions between care settings and systems.
- Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Families, including assisting families in planning for future care needs, assessing and addressing the housing needs of people with Alzheimer’s, and maintaining their dignity, safety and rights.
“These actions are the cornerstones of an historic effort to fight Alzheimer’s disease,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This is a national plan—not a federal one, because reducing the burden of Alzheimer’s will require the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.”
A new website, Alzheimers.gov, furthers these goals by providing answers to difficult questions such as:
- How do you know if someone has Alzheimer’s?
- What are the treatment options?
- How do I plan ahead?
- What kind of care does someone with Alzheimer’s need?
- Where can I go for help?
The website is easy to navigate and comprehensive, gathering together all the resources a family member might need or want when coming to terms with their loved one’s diagnosis. It looks to be a valuable tool both for those with Alzheimer’s and those, including Assisted Living providers, who care for them.