Advocacy Impacting Our Patients Living With Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

State Alzheimer’s Disease Advocacy Day was on March 3, 2022. Following is the list of important bills that impact our patients living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. They have been advocated by our Alzheimer’s Disease Society. I was fortunate to be part of it. This is the summary of these Bills.

Dementia is the loss or decline in memory and other cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 70% of cases. In California alone there are approximately 690,000 individuals living with Alzheimer’s, the most of any state. Among those who develop Alzheimer’s, women, African Americans, and members of the Latinx community are at increased risk. The number of individuals in California who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase substantially. According to the Governor’s Master Plan for Aging (Jan. 2021), “Ten years from now, California will be home to 10.8 million people aged 60 and over – nearly twice as many as in 2010.” Similarly, the prevalence of Californian’s living with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase by nearly 22%.

AB 2583 (Kevin Mullin)
Aims to improve the ability of first responders and peace officers to engage with individuals suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s by providing them the tools and training needed to effectively interact with those living with dementia.

AB 2583 will require the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to revise their training to include instruction on how to appropriately interact with persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia. AB 2583 will ensure that by January 1, 2030, all peace officers hired prior to July 1, 2029, have received training on interacting with individuals with Alzheimer’s. Including this specific training for peace officers will help California achieve the goals laid out in the Master Plan for Aging and facilitate more compassionate engagement between peace officers and individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia in their communities.

SB 861 (Limón)
Dementia Care Navigator Grant Program
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s, and families impacted by the disease must navigate a complex system of public and private support and services to have their care needs met. This can be a challenge for any Californian, in particular people unfamiliar with dementia, and the resources that may be available to them. There is a critical need for increased support in dementia care navigation. One way that this will be possible is by utilizing proven strategies, like the Community Health Workers (CHW), Promotors, or Health Navigator model to ensure that communities which are not well served are given crucial information by people they trust. SB 861 is an important step to ensure individuals receive the support they need while giving CHWs, Promotors, and Health Navigator programs the resources and tools to support an individual with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

AB 1618 (Aguiar-Curry)
Office of the Healthy Brain Initiative
AB 1618 does three critical things to ensure that California is serving the needs of the 2.3 million Californians directly impacted by dementia:

  1. Continues a competitive grant program for local health jurisdictions to develop brain health initiatives
  2. Updates the membership of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Committee
  3. Establishes the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of the Healthy Brain Initiative

AB 1618 codifies the continuation of a competitive grant program, which will award at least ten local health jurisdictions to develop local initiatives that are consistent with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s Health Brain Initiative (HBI). With the funding for the six counties previously awarded with HBI grants slated to end this year, AB 1618 allows for the expansion and development of a diverse variety of strategies to help build awareness around dementia that effectively engage communities. Additionally, AB 1618 updates the membership of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Committee, to have its membership better reflect the needs of today. Established in 1988, the Advisory Committee represents people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, their families, caregivers, consumers, and providers while providing guidance and recommendations to the California Legislature and state agencies. Given the key and important role for public health for individuals impacted by dementia, ensuring CDPH has the needed support to continue this work is critical, which is the last key component of AB 1618. A majority of state funding for Alzheimer’s and related dementia programs currently exists in CDPH and include state funded research, The Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, the Alzheimer’s Taxpayer Checkoff, Healthy Brain Initiative Funding and the state’s behavioral risk factor surveillance system which included cognitive modules. The creation of an office focused on brain health is the next step to supporting the communities impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease, while enabling CDPH to approach brain health and dementia in a concise and comprehensive manner.

Kamal Kejriwal M.D. FAAFP, CMD, AGSF
Program Director, Geriatric Fellowship, Fontana
Kaiser Fontana Medical Center

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