Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the focus of new Indiana house bill

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Alzheimer’s and Dementia don’t care about your politics or what side of the isle you lean towards: it’s a disease that affects everyone, and one group wants to get ahead of the game.

The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter is pushing House Bill 1422, written by Democratic Representative Greg Porter and Republican Representative Brad Barrett, with even more executive support from Governor Eric Holcomb.

“What this would do is really pretty simple,” says David Sklar, director of government affairs with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, “it would build a public/private partnership between the government and organizations that we have throughout the state called the Area Agencies on Aging.”

Area Agencies on Aging are local resource offices spread throughout Indiana that deal with aging Hoosiers and providing resources to them. HR 1422, if signed into law, would create the Dementia Care Specialist Program.

“And so what we want to do through this bill is create a program that would allow the hiring of new, full-time dementia care specialists for each of the fifteen Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state. [Which] would bring dementia related support, again for those living with the disease and their care givers, into local communities,” says Sklar.

The goal is to step into a Dementia patient’s life before it’s too late and the disease completely takes over. With resource centers and full-time specialists, this would, in theory, save millions of dollars in health care costs because this program would offer treatment options far earlier in a patient’s treatment plan.

Sklar says the association is asking for 3-million dollars over the next two years to fund the program. He says that’s a small price to pay for huge financial savings, especially when it comes to Medicaid expenses.

“We have 110,000 Hoosiers currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that doesn’t include other forms of Dementia, and that number is expected to increase by 18-percent by the year 2025,” says Sklar.

Governor Eric Holcomb will join volunteers for the association’s State Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 7th at the Indiana Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

This will be the first in-person Advocacy Day since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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