In the 2013 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, SB 14—Creating a Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Task Force, passed with only three negative votes throughout the process.
On June 14, the Task Force convened for the first time, and appointed over 70 advisors from across the broad spectrum of stakeholders of Georgians whom dementia impacts—either as a person living with dementia, a family caregiver of a person with dementia, a professional caregiver of a person with dementia, a staff member of a long-term care facility providing care to a person with dementia, physicians serving those with dementia, researchers trying to find the cause of dementia, voluntary health organizations serving and advocating for those with dementia and their caregivers, members of the non-profit community, educational institutions, and the faith-based community.
Working together, these individuals met a minimum of monthly through December, working to determine the contents of the first Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Task Force—the goals, objectives, and strategies to make Georgia dementia-capable.
The first draft is currently in process of being written, reviewed, and prepared for presentation to the Georgia General Assembly and the Governor. The Plan is designed to be a living document, not placed on a shelf, but used as a blueprint for actions that need to be taken by state agencies, the Legislature, and the stakeholders in the voluntary health, faith-based, and private sectors in collaboration with the state, to ensure that Georgia incrementally moves forward in its goal becoming dementia-capable.
Out of that Plan has come three pieces of legislation that will be important, in the long-term, to the implementation of the State Plan:
- SR 746 (Senate Resolution 746)—sponsored by Senators Unterman—45th, Wilkinson—50th, Hill—22nd, Dugan—30th, Miller—49th—to encourage state legislators to support the Plan and its implementation
- SB 291 (Senate Bill 291)—sponsored by Senators Unterman—45th, Wilkinson—50th, Hill—32nd, Dugan—30th, Hill—4th—to create the Adult and Aging Services Agency as an attached agency to the Georgia Department of Human Services. This bill will create a separate department of state government, separated from the Human Services Department and its role with children, foster care, adoptions, Medicaid, etc. This will allow specific focus on issues of aging, and minimize competition for focus, budget, and resources.
- SB 292 (Senate Bill 292)—sponsored by Senators Unterman—45th, Wilkinson—50th, Hill—32nd, Dugan—30th, and Hill—4th—establishing within the Department of Public Health, the Alzheimer’s Disease Registry—to better collect, interpret, and disseminate data on the number of Georgians with dementia, the types of dementia, and the services and resources they receive. This will help us to better understand the numbers—thus better understanding the need, and better preparing to meet that need.
We invite you to join us on Thursday, February 13, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., for Alzheimer’s Awareness Day at the Georgia State Capitol—where advocates from all across Georgia come together to learn about the issues in training classes prior to Awareness Day, get an update once at Awareness Day, have their photos made with Governor Deal, then meet with their Georgia Senator and Georgia Representative to ask them specifically to vote for our legislation.
This year, we will also be supporting the Council of Aging Advocates (COAGE), in the appropriations requests for Home and Community Based Services, including emergency placement, respite care, meals on wheels, transportation, homemaker services, etc. We are also supporting additional funding for Adult Protective Services, strengthening the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, funding for the Senior Legal Hotline, and reducing the Waiting List for Non-Medicaid Home and Community-based Services.
We hope that you will join us at the Capitol on February 13—but if you can’t join us in person, please check our website frequently for updates, and register as a Georgia Alzheimer’s advocate so that you will receive timely e-mail updates on what is happening at the Georgia Capitol, and in Washington that impacts those living with Alzheimer’s or a Related Dementia and those who care about and for them.