Their view | Pa. group creating Alzheimer’s disease plan

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are feared illnesses. Increasing numbers of articles, research reports, TV and radio shows, constantly inform us of the impact of these illnesses upon individuals, families and society.

These growing concerns prompted Gov. Tom Corbett to address the need for a better understanding of, and a plan for, Pennsylvania to deal with the estimated 400,000 citizens already affected.

The Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee has been established by executive order.

The Planning Committee, led by Brian Duke, secretary of the Department of Aging, consists of 26 members who include elected officials, researchers, agency representatives, health care providers, advocates and persons under care. This group is charged to provide a plan to the governor by early 2014.

Six regional meetings have been scheduled across Pennsylvania to provide an opportunity for public input. The kickoff meeting was held in Harrisburg, where people who have had to cope with a family member stricken by this dreaded disease shared their personal experiences of dealing with the various agencies, costs, and other obstacles placed in their way.

The next Alzheimer’s planning meeting is scheduled to occur on Aug. 8 in State College. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ruth Pike Auditorium in the Biobehavioral Health Building on the Penn State campus.

Additional information is available at: www.aging.state.pa.us. Citizens are invited to present comments to the committee in person or by email at alzstateplan@pa.gov.

While comments are expected from many professionals involved in providing care and conducting research, there is a significant need to hear from patients, caregivers, and others who have been directly impacted with Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

Personal stories and experiences will provide valuable input to the deliberations of the committee.

It is extremely important for the committee to be able to determine the needs of Pennsylvanians with Alzheimer’s; the resources needed to support Pennsylvanians with the disease (as well as their caregivers and families); and other ideas for the state to better respond to the growing number of Pennsylvanians with the disease.

The work of this committee is very timely and critical to the work of preventing, delaying onset and treating Alzheimer’s.

The PA Council on Aging will be working closely with the Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee as it moves toward the accomplishment of its important goal, the creation of a state plan to address Alzheimer’s disease and related brain disorders.

Robert K. Wargo is chairman of the PA Council on Aging Central Regional Council.