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Senate Adopts Alzheimer’s Response Plan

February 18, 2013
Two elderly men

Alzheimer’s prevention and awareness is a critical issue facing Georgia’s rapidly-expanding aging population. Alzheimer's disease represents the sixth leading cause of death in Americans and is the fifth leading cause of death in people over the age of 65. In Georgia, about 125,000 people are suffering from this disease or some form of cognitive impairment.

To address this growing epidemic, the Georgia State Senate recently adopted Senate Bill 14, a statewide Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford). If passed into law, this legislation will assess the current and future impact of this disease, build the necessary infrastructure for patient programs, and evaluate future state policies and responses.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012 and at least 800,000 Americans live alone with this debilitating disease every day. It is also projected that the number of Georgians with Alzheimer’s will increase by 45 percent from 2000 to 2025. This is an alarming trend that could potentially place a significant burden on our state’s health care system, especially as Georgia’s baby boomer population continues to age.

Currently, about 75 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s end up in a nursing home by age 80 and almost 70,000 nursing home residents in the United States have some form of cognitive impairment.  Among nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, 51 percent rely on Medicaid for payment of care. In 2010, Georgia Medicaid spent over $2 billion just on long-term care for seniors.

The passage of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force will help monitor trends in the state’s Alzheimer’s and related dementias population, including the state’s role in long-term care and assistance to affected persons and their families. Further, the plan will also address ways in which state and local agencies and non-governmental entities can collaborate and work together to form a seamless network of education, support, and other needed services.

Now more than ever, it is important to provide Georgians with Alzheimer’s disease and their families with the resources necessary to enhance their overall quality of care and ensure effective treatment.

The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

About the Author

Shawna Mercer is the Senior Communications Specialist of the Georgia State Senate Press Office. She is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in Mass Communications. Shawna previously worked in Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s communications office and for the American Seniors Association.