In the final days and hours of this year’s legislative session, the Idaho Legislature unanimously approved House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 034, put forth by the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group (IAPG), voting into effect a statewide plan to address Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.
“New research shows that nationwide, one in three seniors either dies with or of some form of dementia,” said Troy Rohn, professor of biology at Boise State and IAPG co-founder. “Our state plan is a significant step toward improving the quality of life for Idahoans with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, as well as their families and caregivers. Idaho now proudly joins 27 other states with plans to address this devastating disease.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is rapidly growing in prevalence as the population ages, especially in Idaho where older people are the fastest growing segment of the population. All the Idahoans currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease could fill Bronco stadium. Idaho’s mortality rate from Alzheimer’s disease is consistently higher than the national average.
A recent study by the non-profit Rand Corporation found that Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the U.S., costing families and society $157 billion to $215 billion a year. The study found that the informal costs of care, such as lost wages of the caregivers, are substantially higher for dementia than for cancer or heart conditions. Patients live four to eight years on average after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but some live as long as 20 years. By age 80, about 75 percent of people with Alzheimer’s will be in a nursing home compared with only 4 percent of the general population. Approximately 41% of Idahoans living in nursing homes have moderate to severe dementia. This places a tremendous burden on state (Medicaid) and federal (Medicare) financing mechanisms.
The Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group (IAPG) is a volunteer task force consisting of members from the Alzheimer’s Association, AARP Idaho, Boise State University’s Center for the Study of Aging, the Idaho Commission on Aging and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, plus educators, researchers, administrators, service providers and other advocates. With the passage of this resolution, IAPG will begin the process of implementing the plan over the next five years.
To see a copy of Idaho’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, visit alz.org and click on the plan listed in the right column.