Letter: Legislation provides hope for Alzheimer’s care

To the editor:

During the nine years while I was the primary caregiver for my husband, who had been diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I depended on the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter to provide education about dementia and support in caring for my husband and myself. In 2004, there were few options and resources for doctors to help patients and their caregivers manage the illness that was often not talked about outside of family.

In the past few years there has been an increased awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but formal care-planning for caregivers is sporadic at best. Since my husband’s death, I have volunteered at advocacy, general awareness and education of caregivers through the free resources offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Now, progress is being made, and the Alzheimer’s Association is celebrating. In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee included the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act in the proposed annual federal spending bill. On July 12, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed this as a new service beginning Jan. 1.

This new service means that those with Alzheimer’s disease will have access to a cognitive and functional assessment, followed by care-planning with the medical professional. It would also ensure that the dementia diagnosis and subsequent care-planning be documented in the medical record.

The Indiana Congressional delegation was a champion for this bill. Sen. Donnelly and Reps. Visclosky, Walorski, Brooks, Messer, Carson, Buschon and Young all cosponsored the bill and pressed for its passage. The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter and I wish to thank our Indiana delegation for their widespread and bipartisan support.

Diana Dijak