November 23, 2009

With 5 Million Americans Suffering From Alzheimer’s, Gillibrand Introduces Legislation To Improve Patient Care And Caregiver Support

New Measure Would Improve Treatment Services For Alzheimer’s Patients And Expand Training And Support Services For Their Families And Caregivers

Washington, D.C. - With an estimated 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that would improve treatment services for Alzheimer's patients and expand training and support services for their families and caregivers. The Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act would provide grants to public and nonprofit organizations to improve patient treatment services and support services for Alzheimer's caregivers. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives last week.

"Alzheimer's deeply affects families across New York," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. "In the coming years, as our aged population grows, more families will be living with this heartbreaking disease for which there is no known cure.  We must do more to ensure that patients suffering from this condition are receiving the best care possible, and that Alzheimer's caregivers looking after the needs of our loved ones are receiving the highest level of assistance and the best training techniques. This legislation addresses gaping holes in the current support system for victims of Alzheimer's, and works to ensure that patients and caregivers receive the resources they deserve."   

"This legislation recognizes that families and other caregivers taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer's must have the dementia care training they need to manage needed care," said Robert Egge, Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy at the Alzheimer's Association.  "The bill also provides services tailored to the unique needs of each individual with dementia, and expands community based services, especially in underserved communities, to assist families in need."

The Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act would provide grants to organizations that employ a comprehensive approach to care that integrates patient treatment techniques with training and support services for families and caregivers. A majority of Alzheimer's patients remain at home and cared for by family members, who look after their physical, emotional, medical, legal, and financial affairs. Caring for an Alzheimer's patient can be extremely stressful - more than 40 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress of the disease's dementia symptoms as high or very high and about one-third suffer from depression.

Programs across New York could apply for funding through the Alzheimer's Treatment and Caregiver Support Act to enhance their services. For example, Day Haven, an adult day services program for Alzheimer's patients located on Long Island, prevents patients from being confined to a nursing home. Approximately 90 percent of their participants suffer from dementia and cannot be left alone. With federal dollars, Day Haven would be able to offer more stimulating social activities program, extend their flexible hours (including weekends) to help working families, and provide emergency respite care. They could also help with offsite services including transportation, meal and nutrition needs and dementia-proofing homes.

Another example, Ozanam Hall, located in Bayside, Queens, cares for more than 200 residents suffering from Alzheimer's. Federal dollars would support programs like their "Love Made Visible" program, which includes a daylong care program featuring social stimuli, communications exercises and hot, nutritious meals.