Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry and Limón introduce legislative package to tackle Alzheimer’s crisis

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, center, with members of the Alzheimer’s Association on Monday, February 3, 2020, at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Courtesy photo.

SACRAMENTO – On Monday, Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) introduced Assembly Bill 2047 and Assembly Bill 2048, flanked on the floor of the State Assembly by advocates from the Alzheimer’s Association.

These two companion bills would promote greater awareness and earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The bills provide seniors, providers, and caregivers with the tools they need to recognize and plan for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and lay the groundwork for treatment strategies later in the life of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health crisis. It is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, which results in memory loss, impaired cognitive function, and ultimately death. The over-65 population in California is projected to grow to 8.6 million by 2030, and though Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of growing old, aging is the greatest known risk factor for developing the disease.

According to the California Department of Public Health, deaths in California due to Alzheimer’s disease increased 243% from 2000 to 2015, and in 2015 Alzheimer’s was the third leading cause of death.

AB 2047, authored by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, directs the Consortium of California Alzheimer's Disease Centers to widely disseminate and implement the “Assessment of Cognitive Complaints Toolkit” to healthcare providers.

The consortium has already completed the work to develop this provider toolkit, using state budget funding from 2016.

However, the toolkit resource has not been made widely available beyond the expert urban academic medical centers that collaborated to develop it.

“There is a critical need for increased and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” said Aguiar-Curry. “Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be devastating, but now we have the tools to ensure that individuals and families receive timely and accurate information. If we fully deploy these tools, we can save families valuable time to find and access benefits and develop a plan for their loved ones’ care. For every moment saved through early diagnosis, we will extend quality of life and rescue moments for Alzheimer’s patients to meaningfully interact with friends and loved ones.”

AB 2048, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón creates an informational tool to assist individuals who are experiencing cognitive impairment, and their caregivers, in communicating with health care providers before and after receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

“California has the largest number of people impacted by this disease. This tool would assist individuals and their caregivers navigate the oftentimes difficult conversations with their health care providers”, said Limón. “Understanding the diagnosis, treatment options, and the disease would provide individuals better assurance when making decisions or asking questions.”

"I knew something was wrong and almost everyone kept saying my symptoms were ‘normal.’ But Alzheimer's is not just a normal part of aging." said Pam Montana, member of Gov. Newsom's Alzheimer's Taskforce and former member of the National Alzheimer's Association Board of Directors. "Once I finally received a diagnosis, I started prioritizing things in my life that bring me happiness. We need to fight for everyone with any form of dementia to have that same opportunity."

The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that approximately one in five Californians will be 65 or older by 2030. Together, AB 2047 and AB 2048 will increase Californians’ quality of life by making sure that seniors, healthcare providers, and caregivers have access to established Alzheimer’s information and tools to support their needs.

Aguiar-Curry represents the Fourth Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.

Monique Limón represents the 37th Assembly District, which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura, Goleta, Carpinteria, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Buellton, Solvang, Summerland, Isla Vista, Montecito and parts of Oxnard.

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