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California Leaders Confront Alarming Rise in Alzheimer's Cases
Date:3/9/2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Anticipating a catastrophic increase in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, California leaders have completed the much-anticipated California State Plan for Alzheimer's disease, a disease estimated to double among Californians by the year 2030.  The plan is a 10-year course of action with guiding principles, goals and recommendations to prepare California for this growing health crisis.  

Alzheimer's will soon soar to epidemic proportions in California, according to Alzheimer's Association research, which indicates that by 2030, the number of Californians age 55 and older living with Alzheimer's disease will double to 1.1 million.  Due to a rapidly aging population, the increase will be even more dramatic among California's Asians and Latinos, who will see a tripling in those affected by 2030.  

"As the author of the legislation calling for the State Plan, I wanted to bring together the best minds in California to develop new ways to address the epidemic that is Alzheimer's disease," said Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose). "If we don't act now before the epicenter of the crisis hits us in 10 years, the economic and human costs will be insurmountable. Procrastination is simply not an option. I am absolutely confident that our State Plan will be a model for the nation."

The State Plan is intended to streamline government functions, reduce costs and increase efficiency through effective use of existing resources.  Its goals and recommendations include a commitment to research and system changes that minimize societal stigma and improve detection, diagnosis, treatment and care for individuals and families impacted by the disease.  It also addresses the challenges and opportunities to finance the recommendations.  These include restoring and enhancing California's home and community-based care system, as well as support for family caregivers and the training of professionals.  Proper training and support for families can help forestall the demand for services in publicly funded, high-cost settings such as hospitals, emergency rooms and nursing homes.

"Unless we invest in home and community-based care, including the family caregiver, we are simply cost shifting to nursing homes, emergency rooms and hospitals, which places an even greater burden on the state," said Joshua Chodosh, M.D., MSHS, University of California, Los Angeles and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, co-chair of the State Plan Task Force.  "The cost of medical and social supports for Alzheimer's just in California is expected to jump from $16 billion to $31.3 billion by 2030.  These and other statistics underscore the need for the State Plan."  

Next steps include advocacy for implementation of the Plan's recommendations for long-term care policy changes.  In the months ahead, a series of policy briefings will communicate the Plan's findings to the new governor, the Legislature and other policymakers and leaders.  This will better prepare them to address the escalation of Alzheimer's among California's population.  

"The stakes are high.  It's not just individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's who are of concern – in fact, virtually every Californian could be affected by the disease, including family caregivers, employers and taxpayers," said Mary Sundsmo, MBA, UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research, president of the Alzheimer's Association California Council. "The impact of Alzheimer's disease is already being felt across all sectors of society, but the sheer number of aging baby boomers means the worst is yet to come. We are proud that California is addressing this growing health crisis and joining 18 other states in developing its own Alzheimer's Disease State Plan."  

The State Plan was created in response to SB 491 by Sen. Elaine Alquist in 2008.  Under the leadership of the Alzheimer's Association, State Health and Human Services Agency, and Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Committee, a broad-based task force was appointed.  The task force engaged more than 2,500 individuals in plan development, including people living with the disease, under-served communities, representatives from the health care and provider community, researchers, academicians, family caregivers, local and state government staff, and elder law experts.  

The plan was funded through a unique public-private partnership, including support from The SCAN Foundation, The California Endowment, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and Archstone Foundation.  

"When properly implemented, this plan can and will benefit the entire state and every California resident.  We will see a difference in how prepared California is in the face of an unavoidable and alarming rise in Alzheimer's cases," said Sundsmo.

The Alzheimer's Association's five California chapters are part of the national Alzheimer's Association.  The mission of the Alzheimer's Association is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. It is the largest private funder of research for Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.  For more information and to download a copy of the California State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease, visit http://www.caalz.org.  Families and others can get information on the disease 24/7 by calling the Alzheimer's Association's Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.


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SOURCE The Alzheimer’s Association
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