Senate Report Examines Goals for Alzheimer’s Care

Alzheimer’s is an “impending public health crisis” in California and needs immediate and continued state attention, according to a new report from the California Senate Office of Research.

The statewide focus on Alzheimer’s disease began in earnest two years ago, according to the report released last week. “The year 2011 was significant for Alzheimer’s disease, as the first baby boomers turned 65 years old,” the report said.

That was the year California unveiled its action plan for the 2011—2021 decade, and when the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law.

California health officials have set six goals for dealing with the public health crisis of Alzheimer’s, according to the report:

  • Eliminate stigma, which includes public awareness and education efforts;
  • Ensure access to care by developing a network of affordable medical and long-term care services and support;
  • Support family caregivers by investing in the informal, unpaid caregiver as a vital participant in care;
  • Develop a workforce of culturally competent providers;
  • Advance and expand research efforts; and
  • Create a coordinated state Alzheimer’s infrastructure to enhance delivery of care, including public health approaches and the collection and analysis of data.

Nationally, the estimated 5.2 million Americans who now live with Alzheimer’s is expected to rise to more than 7 million by 2025. It’s the fifth-leading cause of death for individuals over age 65.

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April estimated the total cost of dementia at between $159 billion and $215 billion nationwide in one year. According to the study, 75 to 84% of dementia costs were associated with institutional care, not medical services.

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