Nevada’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease

An elderly lady walking to her car in the parking lot.

An elderly lady walking to her car in the parking lot.

       A Nevada state plan has been created to help deal with Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer Association of Northern Nevada worked with the Legislature to create the plan.
There are three bills in the legislature right now that would implement part of the plan: SB 69, AB 80 and SB 86.

       “The legislature is very interested in how we are all going to deal with this disease because a lot of them have this disease in their family or they know someone with the disease; they know the financial and physical burden this puts on the families,” Pratt said.
Angie Pratt is the regional director for the Northern Nevada’s Alzheimer Association; she has been working for the Alzheimer Association since August 2007.

More About Alzheimer’s

       According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America; this disease can’t be prevented or cured. Alzheimer is a type of dementia; it is a progressive disease, which means that once you get it, it will get worst within time.

       SB 69 is in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy. The bill would allow Nurse Practitioners to practice without the supervision and approval of a licensed physician; this helps Alzheimer’s families because in “under-served” areas some physicians are not available.

       AB 80 is in the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services. The bill would create a Task Force on Alzheimer’s to input recommendations on the recent State plan, monitor progress made by the plan and research problems with the disease.

       The Task Force’s ongoing work on the state plan will result in a trend to pass more bills in future legislative sessions. This will benefit families with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers because it will provide them with the help and support they need.

Caregiver for the Rosewood Rehabilitation Center.

Caregiver for the Rosewood Rehabilitation Center.

       Jennie Sanchez is a 49-year-old caregiver at the Rosewood Rehabilitation Center in Reno, Nevada; she has been working there for about five years now. She says that it is very stressful job because you need to know how to control your temper when interacting with people who have this disease. Also, Sanchez says that when dealing with people who have Alzheimer’s you need to know how to handle they’re attitude and understand their situation.
       “I feel like quitting sometimes when I am discriminated against, get hurt, or get spit at by them,” Sanchez said.
       Sanchez says that Alzheimer’s patients have hit her and kicked her.
       “I feel bad, but we need to deal with them we need to be so lenient with them, they don’t know what’s going, they have a disease where they don’t know what they’re doing,” Sanchez said.
       At the end of the day, Sanchez says that she is happy to be a caregiver because she likes dealing with the elderly and she’s happy to be with them.

       SB 86 is in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. This bill would remove age restrictions on younger Alzheimer’s patients. This helps Alzheimer’s patients who are under the age of 60 to quickly receive the help they need.

       Casey Catlin is a graduate student from the University of Nevada Reno and she helped draft the Nevada state plan on Alzheimer’s disease.

       “We have a rapidly aging population and more and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Our health care system isn’t really set up to manage all of that care right now,” Catlin said.

       Catlin said that President Obama set some goals for what the U.S. could do to address the problem of Alzheimer’s disease. Each state was instructed to come up with their own plan to see how they could help people with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

       There are 20 recommendations (like guidelines for legislators and policy makers) that the Nevada state plan addresses. Respite services, changing the age restriction for assistance, maximizing current and future research on the disease and developing awareness campaigns are a few of the recommendations this plan addresses.

       Kathy Welsh is the family care associate for the Alzheimer’s Association in Northern Nevada. According to Welsh, the Alzheimer’s respite grant is made to give caregivers, usually of low income or poverty, a break from caregiving. The state of Nevada gives away a $1,000 grant per year.

Data provided by the Alzheimer's Association.

Data provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

       “It’s a wonderful way to refresh yourself; there are high incidents of depression amongst caregivers,” Welsh said.

       Vicki Lebsack is the program director for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern Nevada.

       “Teaching caregivers how to care for them themselves is huge, they need to get away and have an opportunity to take a breather,” Lebsack said.

       The Nevada state plan addresses the need to expand their respite services and they want to make respite grant qualifications more broad so that more people can qualify and benefit from these programs. They’re goal is to reduce the amount of people with this disease going to the emergency rooms and to reduce stress for caregivers.

Data provided by the Alzheimer's Association.

Data provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

       Since 2010, the amount of Nevada caregivers for patients with Alzheimer has gone up. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, caregivers have been putting in extra, unpaid hours in care for their Alzheimer’s patients.

You can see the full Nevada state plan for Alzheimer’s here.

Watch this video for more information on Alzheimer’s.

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