The Association recently hosted a community forum with Multicare, Pierce County Human Services and the Pierce County Library System to learn more about the community’s lived experience. The meeting included constituents impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementias and individuals who work in a profession that supports those on their journey with the disease.
Topics discussed ranged from obtaining a diagnosis to finding resources to how community members can support each other. Here are three key takeaways:
1. A variety of gaps make diagnosing and accessing specialty care difficult: Attendees reported that finding providers has become especially difficult since COVID. Wait times to see a primary care physician or a specialist such as a neurologist can be months. Many rely on urgent care as the first line of treatment. Those who do have established relationships with providers feel the health system is too siloed. Others mentioned that when they need providers for an issue not related to Alzheimer’s or dementia that many providers lack the understanding or training of how to work with this population.
2. Financial considerations impact access as well: Those who rely solely on Medicaid reported a lack of providers for medical care and housing options at assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing facilities. These financial burdens impact not only the person with the disease but also their care partners.
3. Need to build more advocacy and awareness: Attendees reported that talking about the disease and how it has impacted their lives can help reduce stigma and close gaps. Community members need to know that just because dementia or Alzheimer’s may not run in your family doesn’t mean you are not impacted by it or that you won’t develop the disease in the future.
The Association is grateful to those who participated. If you have feedback/suggestions regarding services in Pierce County, please share your feedback with our Director of Programs & Services, Meghan Means at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a caregiver or an individual living with Alzheimer’s, you don’t have to do this alone. The Alzheimer’s Association offers free support groups throughout the region. To learn more, visit alzwa.org/support.
You can also find support and resources by calling our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900. Our helpline is available around the clock, 365 days a year. This free service is staffed by specialists and master’s-level clinicians and offers confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families, and the public.