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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.