From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist
Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias affects 6 million people nationally and 110,000 in Wisconsin – and those numbers are poised to rise in coming years as baby boomers age – and the state must expand programs and improve services for this growing population, state Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) said Wednesday during opening comments of the first Speaker’s Taskforce on Alzheimer’s and Dementia meeting.
Speakers from two Alzheimer’s organizations, as well as from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), on last week Wednesday, shared with the taskforce their thoughts on what issues need to be addressed. According to Tom Hlavacek of the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, the state should focus on early identification/intervention and expanded funding for mobile crisis teams.
- Community-based care and services, including caregiver related proposals
- Facility-based care
- Crisis response system proposals
Molke said capacity is a problem in Wisconsin – 90 percent of counties in Wisconsin with a mobile crisis team say they don’t have access to sufficient number of places that can accept dementia patients in crisis. Taskforce member Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) said he would like to talk about increasing capacity, as well as the possibility of cross-training experts able to execute responses for both Chapter 51 and 55 emergency placements. Brostoff said the state physically has structures and infrastructure in place that can serve people but there is a gap in expertise, and he suggested perhaps additional funding for training – without creating a whole new system geared just toward Alzheimer/dementia emergency crisis placements.
- Provide respite care or support services for caregivers;
- Provide education to help with early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and referral to appropriate services; and
- Expand funding for mobile crisis teams, with an emphasis on stabilizing the person in place.