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Massachusetts Passes Measures Taking Aim at Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's Association Hails New Bills

BOSTON, August 1, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advocates for Alzheimer's patients who worked to secure improvements in care were rewarded for their efforts as the Massachusetts legislature enacted two separate bills this week. The bills, S.1882 An Act relative to the Massachusetts Alzheimer's and Related Dementias Acute Care Advisory Committee and S.2165 Uniform Adult Guardianship, were proposed and supported by the Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. One bill calls for developing guidelines to improve care to those with Alzheimer's or other related dementia when they are admitted to a hospital or emergency department. The guardianship measure will make it simpler for families to address legal issues across state lines.

"These measures are critical to providing the best care, with the least amount of stress on families," said James Wessler, president/CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, MA/NH Chapter. "We have wonderful hospitals in Massachusetts, but not all staff is trained in the challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer's." The measure is one of the first such in the nation, Wessler said.

"We know that someone with Alzheimer's or a related disorder can be at a disadvantage in acute care settings, based on both their inability to represent themselves and challenging behaviors that can be part of the disease," said Brent Forester, MD, Director, Geriatric Mood Disorders Research Program, McLean Hospital and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. "This legislation will help acute care staff as they provide care. It has the potential to positively impact thousands of people." Forester also serves as Chair of the Medical-Scientific Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer's Association, MA/NH Chapter.

"In addition to the thousands of family members who supported these bills, we had great partners," said Wessler. S.1882 was supported by the Massachusetts Hospital Association; S.2165 attracted a coalition of organizations, including AARP.

In what appeared to be a record-breaking year as Mass legislators worked through a heavy agenda in the final week before adjourning for summer, both bills received strong support from sponsors and co-sponsors. Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) who chairs the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs  and Rep. Canavan (D-Brockton) sponsored the acute care bill, which was also championed by Jim O'Day (D-West Boylston), Senate President Therese Murray, Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

Uniform guardianship was sponsored by Rep. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) and championed by Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham).

According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 120,000 people have Alzheimer's in Massachusetts. That number is expected to grow dramatically as baby boomers age. Information about Alzheimer's is available through the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline 800-272-3900 or at alz.org/MANH.

SOURCE Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter

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