Thursday, May 27, 2010

A State Plan We Can Live With

Caregivers across California are providing valuable input for a 10-year state plan for Alzheimer’s disease as it continues to be a leading cause of death, a trend likely to continue as baby boomers age.

Last year a 22-member task force was created by appointment, and among those selected was Amy Abrams, a San Diego geriatric care manager who also serves on the Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers board of directors. (When we say she’s an active board member, we mean it: Last weekend she ran a marathon to raise funds for our organization.)

Amy is a member of the Health and Medical Subcommittee, which is dedicated to assessing the state’s current health and medical services related to Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments.

“It’s been a really interesting process to hear how other professionals are, or would like, to effectively coordinate dementia care,” Amy said in a recent interview. Often, when a family receives a diagnosis of dementia, their primary care doctors do not know what resources are available and how to access them. Her group’s goal is to have every Californian with such a diagnosis be assigned a dementia care coordinator to help connect them with the appropriate services.

Other areas of focus include dealing with a growing shortage of geriatric specialists and working with physicians on continuing education to make sure dementia-specific units are included. “We need primary care physicians to be able to confidently diagnose and follow their patients' dementia,” she said.

We also need family caregivers to give input so the final state plan accurately reflects real-world experiences of those living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, health and aging leaders throughout California.

An online survey includes questions about the caregiver’s personal experience. It is easy to access via a computer terminal (PC or Apple) and is available in five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Simply enter the survey address:’sStatePlanDevelopmentTaskForce.aspx or click here.

The survey take less than 5 minutes to complete. To learn more about the survey or the State Plan process, please contact Alex Graves at 916-447-2731 or by email