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Alzheimer’s disease and dementia presents significant challenges to those living with the disease, their caregivers, and our entire community.  All too often, families are stretched to the breaking point as they endeavor to provide care for their loved one with little to no outside help or support.  Working together, we can change this status quo.

Advocacy in the Community

Westchester Forum – Wednesday, March 8

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin will be hosting an Alzheimer’s Community Forum.
Our risk for memory loss increases as we age. What can we do now to keep our brains healthy? Are there foods that we can eat that will help our memory? What do we do if we see signs of memory loss?

These questions and more will be answered at a free community forum to be held on Wednesday, March 8th from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Westchester Senior Center, 8740 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

Dr. Edmond Teng will share the latest research that explores what helps our brain as we age and what we can do to reduce memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Teng is a Physician Research Scientist in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The event will include a health and resource fair with booths that will provide information about caregiving, clinical trials, assisted living, financial and legal planning, and other services that are available to the community.

For more information or to register for the event, please go to https://westchesteralzforum.eventbrite.com or contact Kelly Honda at 323.930.6244 or khonda@alzgla.org.

Ongoing Advocacy Efforts

FEDERAL ACTION

Congress has set repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as one of its highest priorities.  Full repeal without a comparable replacement would have serious negative consequences for people with dementia and their families.

  • Among the benefits provided through the Affordable Care Act are:
    • Free annual Medicare wellness visit that includes a cognitive assessment
    • Expanding coverage of Medicare prescription drugs to eliminate the “donut hole
    • Health insurance companies cannot refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions, which protects people with early-onset dementia from discrimination.

In addition, ACA funding has supported work here at Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles such as our award winning Dementia Cal-MediConnect project. Thanks to this funding, our staff has trained case managers at health plans in the greater Los Angeles area to better serve people with dementia and their caregivers. 

But we will only be successful in our advocacy efforts if you speak up. We need YOU to tell the new President and Congress to support the programs our families rely upon every day and to fund the Alzheimer’s research that our scientists need to find a cure. So keep your eye out for our AlZGLA advocacy emails and then pick up the phone, send an email, or make a visit to your Member of Congress to tell them we are relying on them to lift our families up, not pull the rug out from under their feet.

For more information about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, please read the Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Coalition issue brief here.

LOCAL ACTION

Dementia Capable Communities

We are in the early stages of launching a Dementia Friendly America pilot project in the Los Angeles area to help our area communities better accommodate the needs of those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.  For more information, we encourage you to visit the very informative web site www.dfamerica.org.  And keep your eyes open – we plan to have more information to share about this evolving project!

STATE ACTION

California Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a flat funded General Fund budget plan of $122.5 billion for FY 2017- 2018 based on a conservative fiscal outlook that anticipates a $5.8 billion decline in state revenue through the FY 2018 fiscal year. This is due, in part, to the fact that 69.2 percent of the state budget is comprised of revenues derived from personal income taxes, making this a highly volatile system as a result of the significant reliance on capital gains and on taxes paid by a small portion of the population.

The budget does not include any significant funding cuts to senior programs, however, it also does not propose any new funding to restore programs cut during the state’s 2009 recession. 

Coordinated Care Initiative Eliminated

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles has been a key participant in the state’s Coordinated Care Initiative which has sought to better serve people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

When the CCI program was created, the legislature included a requirement that the program be shut down if it could not achieve the required cost savings.  Because the program did not achieve these cost savings, the program was automatically ended.

Despite the formal elimination of the CCI program, the work being done here in Los Angeles under the Cal Medi-Connect program will continue largely unchanged at least through December 31, 2019 when federal authority for the program would need to be renewed.

As a result, Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles will continue working closely with the five health plans participating in the Cal Medi-Connect program in their efforts to build a more dementia capable service delivery system by encouraging plans to:

  • Adopt proven screening tools to better identify people with dementia
  • Establish a protocol to identify family/friend caregivers
  • Document family/friend caregiver in the patient’s medical record
  • Assess family/friend caregiver needs
  • Provide respite benefits
  • Provide dementia-specific professional training programs and technical assistance to health plans
  • Adopt ALZ Direct Connect referral program to connect members to:
    • Support groups
    • Caregiver education
    • Early stage services
    • Care counseling
    • Medic Alert Wanderers I.D. program

The State Supplemental Payment (SSP) for SSI Recipients

The budget provides nothing new for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, for whom grant levels remain at just 90% of the federal poverty level, as a result of recession-era cuts that have never been restored.

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles will be monitoring all of these issues and keep you informed of any proposals that would negatively impact people with dementia and their families. 

Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles invites you to become part of the change today as an Alzheimer’s advocate.

At the local, state and federal levels we advocate for the legislative, policy and regulatory changes that improve the quality of care & quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families through:

  • Improving dementia care and services
  • Increasing access to community-based care
  • Expanding funding for medical research and public programs serving people with dementia and their caregivers
  • Supporting the development of dementia-friendly communities

Now is the time to join us in persuading our policymakers to take direct action on these crucial matters.

What is an advocate?

An advocate educates and engages elected officials on key issues.  Our advocates are just like you – people who care about this cause, who want their elected officials to do more to address the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, and who are ready to make a difference.

If you are interested in getting involved, there are a number of ways you can help depending on the time you have available and the kinds of activities that are of interest to you.

For more information, contact Barbra McLendon at 323.930.6290 or bmclendon@alzgla.org