DHSS, Alzheimer's Association release plan for patient and caregiver needs
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter have released the Delaware State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, a major step in coordinating the delivery of services statewide to support the thousands of Delawareans and their families living with Alzheimer’s today and in the future.
Over the past 18 months, a task force cochaired by DHSS’ Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association brought together caregivers, advocates and professionals from healthcare, education and social services to identify ways to more effectively meet the needs of the increasing number of Delawareans impacted by Alzheimer's and related disorders. Alzheimer’s is an incurable, degenerative brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and behavior. Individuals with Alzheimer’s eventually lose the ability to carry on conversations and respond to their environment.
The state plan, which was released at events at Christiana Care Health System’s Swank Memory Center in Wilmington and the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown, outlines five goals: increasing the awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, bringing focused attention to the development of long-term care services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, strengthening support for caregivers, improving the capacity of Delaware’s workforce to respond to the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s, and increasing Delaware’s capacity for Alzheimer’s disease-related research and data collection.
“With Delaware’s fast-growing aging population, it is extremely important that the state increase and improve our ability to support individuals dealing with the burden of Alzheimer’s disease,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “Government can’t do this alone, so I am especially pleased with the level of collaboration we had from caregivers, families, providers, advocates and researchers in creating this plan."
The risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases as people age. Of Americans age 65 and older, one in nine has Alzheimer’s. In Delaware, the population 65 and older is projected to double between 2000 and 2030 to more than 250,000.
DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said the impact of Alzheimer’s disease places a tremendous burden on individuals and their caregivers.
“We need to build public awareness of the resources and supports available for individuals and their caregivers,” Landgraf said. “The diagnosis is heart-breaking, but the goal of the state plan is that no one should face living with Alzheimer’s in isolation. We also know that the vast majority of caregivers in Delaware are unpaid and caring for those they love in their homes. The state plan puts a priority on building supports and services that enable individuals to provide that care without exacting a toll on their own physical, mental or emotional health.”
“We are extremely grateful to Governor Markell, Secretary Landgraf and members of the task force and working groups for their commitment to develop this comprehensive plan for Delaware that addresses the public health crisis of this century,” said Katie E. Macklin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter.
“Community-based services are essential to helping people continue to live out their lives in the comfort and safety of their own homes. By assisting our seniors and their caregivers, we allow them to maintain a quality of life each of us would hope for in our later years,” said Kenneth S. Bock, deputy director of CHEER Inc. in Georgetown.
To find aging and disability services in Delaware, contact the Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center at 800-223-9074 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Staff members can provide personalized assistance to help families find and use community services. The website www.delawareadrc.com helps people search by county for health services, adult day care, assisted living, caregiver support services, financial assistance, physical therapy, and transportation. A free comprehensive resource, Guide to Services for Older Delawareans and Persons with Disabilities, is offered through the website or by calling the center.
To download a copy of the state plan, go to www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dsaapd/files/alzheimers_plan.pdf.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and services in Delaware, go to www.alz.org/desjsepa.
For more information on CHEER Inc., call 302-856-5187 or go to cheerde.com.