Saturday’s NAPA Town Hall Input Session was truly one of the most exciting events I’ve been involved with in the eight years that I’ve been involved with the Association!
Advocacy is one of those components of what we do as an Association that often intimidates people because they think they need to be an expert to speak to our legislators about Alzheimer’s–what happens if someone asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to?
This past Saturday’s NAPA Town Hall was the perfect example that you don’t have to be a policy expert to be able to tell your government what you want them to hear. 187 Georgians from all across the state spoke up about what they’d like to see included in the National Alzheimer’s Plan. They spoke of everything from staffing ratios in long-term care facilities, to the urgent need for more support services for those diagnosed with younger onset; from accurate, early, diagnosis that offers care resources at the time of diagnosis to recognizing that individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are people first, and should be talked about as individuals living with the disease, not just patients; from ensuring that physicians and other health care providers have better, mandatory training on all forms of dementia to ensuring that those in the long term care industry who are charged for caring for our family members also get quality, appropriate dementia care–especially on behaviors; from ensuring that all forms of dementia are included in the plan–not just Alzheimer’s, to the need for more respite to allow caregivers the time away from their loved one to be able to re-charge their energies so that they can return to continue the loving care they provide to their family member in order to keep them at HOME where they receive care from those whom they love and who love them.
Although some attendees chose not to speak publicly, many took the opportunity to write their comments, and they followed the same thoughtful process as those speaking.
Others, including a Camden County Support Group took the time to e-mail us their comments because they could not attend one of the sites in person, and wanted to be heard.
Saturday was the perfect example of advocacy in action—advocacy at its best–Georgians making the time to use their VOICE to speak up about those things that are important to them, important in the fight to overcome Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
It united Chapter board members, staff, advocates, and representatives of state agencies and other organizations across Georgia, and those legislators who had representatives attending–as the great sequoias stand together, intertwining their roots–so we stand as a state united in our commitment to find a way to overcome Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Your comments helped to inform the policy makers–both federal and state–and the staff of the Chapter as to your needs, your vision, and the hope that you need to continue in this fight.
All of these comments and the others too numerous to include here, are important for the Department of Health and Human Services to hear, for our legislators to hear, and for our staff to hear. Our government is a representative form of government. Our legislators can only do their jobs well if we inform them as to our needs and our expectations of them, then hold them accountable for translating what we’ve said into policy that is relevant, viable, and clear–and Saturday, Georgians stood united with ONE VOICE and told our legislators clearly what we want, what we need, and what we expect–to be a part of the solution to the Alzheimer’s public health crisis…and we are watching, waiting, hoping…and we will hold you accountable.
But, it doesn’t end with Saturday and NAPA–we need you to speak up again–join us on Monday, February 13, 2012, for our next Alzheimer’s Awareness Day at the Georgia State Capitol!