The Needs and Challenges of Dementia

By Rep. Steven Tharinger 

Editors Note: Registration is open for the Washington State Chapter Advocacy Day Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

As a member of the Dementia Action Collaborative (DAC) I am learning about the needs and challenges around dementia. I am also learning about the great work the Alzheimer’s Association along with the Collaborative with the assistance from the Aging and Long-term Support Administration are doing. This work is being done as a result of the legislature moving forward to adopt a Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias. The DAC is a statewide collaborative of volunteers consisting of family care givers, who have been impacted by early onset of Alzheimer’s, to legislators to professional in the field of care, to researchers and academics. It is a very dedicated and talented group.

Some of the highlights of the exciting work that is being done are developing a single web based “point of access” portal link to an array of credible and validated information, resources and supports; creating a Washington State specific road map for family caregivers providing information of what to expect over time to help plan for the future; expand and promote implementation of early stage memory loss groups for people with cognitive impairment/dementia and their care partners. The state has been awarded a waiver from the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services which should lead to improvement to beneficiaries for caregiver services.

On the medical side of the challenges dementia creates there is an effort to provide better information to educate the public about healthy aging including links between brain health and nutrition, exercise, stress management and oral health/periodontal disease. The Bree Collaborative has agreed to take on dementia as a topic to help develop and identify a set of evidenced based standards for diagnosis and treatment, supportive care and advanced planning for people with dementia. This is fundamental work to help improving the health care response to dementia.

Although the impacts of dementia related disease are growing so too are our efforts to deal with its’ impacts. The Alzheimer’s Association; Community Living Connections; are great resources. For information on the state plan and Collaborative go to: https: //  Working together we can find help and improved treatments to deal with dementia related challenges.


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