Last year, we told you about a group of stakeholders working together to create a state plan to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group has now released that plan.
Some of their findings include making disease information and resources easier to access. They also advocate more education and training for health care professionals and caregivers. Idaho lawmakers are now being asked to weigh in.
Boise State professor Troy Rohn researches Alzheimer’s disease and is a member of the planning group. He says Idaho needs a statewide plan.
“Right now, we have about 26,000 people in Idaho that have Alzheimer ’s disease. The 2013 facts and figures from the Alzheimer’s Association shows that there are about 76,000 caregivers that are taking care of these individuals at about an annual cost of unpaid care of $1 billion a year in Idaho,” says Rohn.
“We’re expecting to see a doubling in the numbers of cases in the next 10 to 15 years. That’s one of the reasons our group felt the pressing need to come together and develop a plan, a strategy to deal with this disease.”
Q. Money is a big factor in Alzheimer's disease. You found that keeping patients at home longer saves the state money. What else comes into play when you’re talking about the cost of care for patients?
A. That’s a very important issue. When you’re looking at an individual with Alzheimer’s Disease, most of those individuals are on Medicaid or Medicare. The cost, on average, is about $75,000 a year to take care of one of these individuals in these institutions. Of course most of that is being covered by Medicare or Medicaid. That places a significant burden on our health care system.
The other issue is the personal cost to the families. A lot of these families end up going through all their savings and basically having no money to live on just to take care of these individuals. We really need to try and find ways to help support these people financially, not just from a personal standpoint, but also the burden that it puts on our healthcare system.”
Q. Isn’t the plan concerned with getting information to the right people?
A. That’s exactly right, it’s one of our major objectives. This is a real simple thing that we can do, I’m holding in my hand a resource page, that has all the information that you can imagine about support service, the 211 Idaho CareLine, how to do a living will, a health directive.
This piece of paper, we would love to have every physician in Idaho have a stack of these sitting on their desk and when they diagnose somebody, they can give this form to their patient. It’s a very simple thing to do. But currently, what happens is, there aren’t any effective treatments, there’s no cure. It’s very different than if you’re diagnosed with cancer, there’s a plan. The physician says you’re gonna start chemo, we’re gonna do surgery and then we’re gonna do six weeks of chemo and six weeks of radiation, there’s a plan and that always gives the patient some hope. W
ith Alzheimer’s disease, it’s you have Alzheimer’s disease and that’s the end of it. You walk out the door empty-handed. We need to do better for our patients. And then of course the web presence. We want to have a portal presence where anybody can go to a website that we want to develop and be able to access any number of different topics, related to Alzheimer’s disease.
The Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group has a resolution before the Idaho Legislature that asks lawmakers to endorse the statewide plan.
Here’s the list from the resources page the planning group is giving to physicians around the state:
2-1-1 Idaho CareLine: dial 211 or http://211.idaho.gov/
Area Agency on Aging: http://aging.idaho.gov/
Idaho Healthcare Directive and Living Will: http://sos.idaho.gov/general/hcdr.htm
The National Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline: 1-800-272-3900 or http://www.alz.org/
Taking Action Workbook: http://www.alz.org/mnnd/documents/2010_taking_action_e-book%281%29.pdf
Living Well Workbook: http://www.alz.org/documents/mndak/alz_living_well_workbook_2011v2_web.pdf
At the Crossroads: Family conversations about Alzheimer’s disease: http://www.thehartford.com/mature-market-excellence/dementia-driving
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio