State has plan for dementia

Amid hope of strengthening the well-being of thousands of people dealing with the illnesses, Washington’s first plan to address Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias was officially unveiled during the Alzheimer Association’s Advocacy Day at the state capitol last month.
The plan’s supporters said it identifies ways that public and private partners can coordinate activities and share resources to improve the lives of dementia sufferers and their caregivers.
Recommendations in the plan include increasing public awareness, promoting early detection and diagnosis, preventing emergencies and hospitalizations, expanding family caregiver support systems to help individuals stay in their homes, and postponing or preventing the need for Medicaid or out-of-home placement.
Governor Jay Inslee, noting the plan’s early development grew from summit meetings on aging-related issues in 2013 and legislation that followed, said the resulting state plan “will provide vital support for the over 100,000 Washingtonians currently living with dementia and the over 300,000 caregivers, mostly unpaid family members, who look after them. I have instructed state agencies to begin implementing the plan, which will raise awareness and education, improve well-being and safety, and begin working towards more accessible and affordable long-term care. It’s an important step to help thousands of Washington families.”
The entire plan can be read on the Alzheimer’s Association web site (
For the official rollout of the plan Feb. 12 in Olympia, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized volunteer advocates to hear Inslee and other speakers address dementia issues and meet with state legislators.
Alzheimer’s, the third-leading cause of death in Washington, is the most common type of dementia. Over the past year, the Alzheimer’s Disease Working Group engaged communities to understand the needs of people with dementia. Those discussions led to the first state plan.
Bill Moss, assistant secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services and chairman of the working group, said the plan is a way “to create lasting change” for the betterment of the dementia community.
“Improving how we approach and provide care for individuals with dementia is critical,” Moss said. “Early detection and diagnosis creates opportunities that allow individuals to receive the care they need, make plans for the future and have control over decisions affecting their lives.”