PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A task force endorsed by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has laid out recommendations for dealing with the approaching wave of Alzheimer's disease cases expected in the state as baby boomers turn 65.
The task force is taking on a $2.2 billion problem.
That's the financial toll they say unpaid, unlicensed caregivers — such as family members — provide to Alzheimer's disease patients.
The task force estimates the state will have 110,000 Alzheimer's patients by 2025, a 69-percent spike in just over a decade.
In January 2015, Oregonians who can't afford fulltime care for their family members and are unwilling to have them civilly committed will be required to receive training if they are appointed as guardians.
The task force is holding a series of town hall meetings across Oregon:
Eugene - Saturday, August 4th, 10:00 am to noon - Campbell Senior Center, 155 High St, Eugene
Coos Bay - Thursday, August 9th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm - North Bend Community Center, 2222 Broadway Street, North Bend
Bend - Saturday, August 18th, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm - Bend Senior Center, 1600 SE Reed Market Road, Bend
Medford - Wednesday, August 8th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm - Smullin Health Education Center, Rogue Valley Medical Center, 2825 E Barnett Rd, Medford
Pendleton - Thursday, August 16th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm - Pendleton City Hall, 500 SW Dorion Ave, Pendleton
Portland - Saturday, August 25th, 10:00 am to noon - Alzheimer's Association Oregon Chapter, 1650 NW Naito Parkway, Portland
Salem - Thursday, August 30th, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm - Salem Hospital Building C, 875 Oak St SE, Salem (co-sponsored by the Alzheimer's Network of Oregon, based in Salem)
'Families dealing with Alzheimer's face a difficult journey'
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — By the best estimate, family and friends provide about $2.2 billion worth of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease in Oregon each year. That's a number equal to the hole in Oregon's budget, and it's not likely to improve anytime soon.
In fact, say Alzheimer's experts, the number of patients will grow — estimates put the number at 110,000 by 2025, a 69-percent spike in cases in just over a decade, as baby boomers begin to grey.
To help Oregonians prepare for that increase, a statewide task force unveiled a proposal Monday that focuses on caregivers, state government and the improving quality of care.
The task force is made up of experts in aging populations, physicians and lawyers. The group has the support of the governor and state legislators, and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' national rollout of its National Alzheimer's Project Act.
"We all need to roll up our sleeves and confront Alzheimer's disease now," said Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, a member of the task force and director of geriatric neurology at the Portland Veterans Administration.
The most salient element of the project's goals is to require all caregivers, including family, to get training on dementia and the responsibilities of representing someone with the condition. People in the latter stages of Alzheimer's disease often require in-patient psychiatric treatment and round-the-clock care in a secure setting.
That's not a financial reality for most Oregonians, who are instead left with the choice of requesting a civil commitment of a family member or acting as caregivers themselves. The people who choose to do so aren't required to receive any training
"Family members are thus often appointed as guardians with no training or orientation regarding ethics or the required duties," according to the report.
The proposed solution: By January 2015, Oregon will make training mandatory for anyone appointed to a guardianship position within 90 days of their appointment. The plan does not include an enforcement mechanism for ensuring the guardians get trained.
State government bears part of the burden, too. The report says the state spends $300 million per year in just Medicaid dollars on Alzheimer's patients, and the ripples spread to burden local governments, employers and the healthcare system.
"Families dealing with Alzheimer's face a difficult journey struggling with the impact of this devastating disease," said Kathleen Cody, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Oregon Chapter, in a release. "By working together, there is hope for the future that caregivers will have the resources they need, and that we will someday achieve our vision of a world without Alzheimer's."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press