State legislators scored a victory for older Pennsylvanians on February 9th, 2022, when Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1082 into law. Advocates hope this law will give healthcare providers and families the tools they need to detect Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia earlier, giving seniors a better chance of receiving the treatment they need.
The Bill requires the Department of Health to establish and maintain a toolkit that will provide information on the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This includes an education program that provides details on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease, and a public outreach program to promote awareness.
State Representative Carrie Lewis DelRosso of Allegheny County, who sponsored the Bill, highlighted a “lack of diagnostic training, time constraints and lack of support, communication difficulties and fear of causing distress, lack of disease-modifying treatment, stigma, and a health care specialist shortage” as a combination of factors that prevent healthcare workers from recognizing dementia in its early stages.
As a state with one of the largest aging populations in the country, legislators felt it was crucial for Pennsylvania to address this issue.
“Far too many Pennsylvanians live with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” said Governor Wolf in a statement, “This is a tragedy, especially because we know that early diagnosis can improve care, help maintain a person’s quality of life, and reduce the financial impact of the disease.”
The Alzheimer’s Association calls the disease a “growing health crisis” in Pennsylvania. They estimate that some 280,000 people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in Pennsylvania and that 500,000 family members are currently acting as unpaid caregivers. House Bill 1082 gives them more educational resources about how to care for family members with dementia as well as information about how to obtain financial resources to compensate them for the time they spend providing care.
Jennifer Ebersole, Director of State Government Affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association said, “Legislation like this, which directly addresses the needs of Pennsylvania residents and establishes a foundation for future collaboration and intervention, is really where we see promise in Pennsylvania’s ability to address, and hopefully curtail this public health crisis.”
Contact A Professional
At Slutsky Elder Law, many of our clients are people living with dementia. We have seen how this disease affects families, and we know that addressing the legal ramifications of Alzheimer’s and dementia before you begin to experience significant cognitive decline is crucial. If you have not granted a power of attorney to someone you trust, you could end up in an unfavorable guardianship situation that robs you of your ability to control your future care and protect your assets. Assigning power of attorney to someone you trust and planning for other eldercare contingencies today may be the best and most prudent decision you ever make.
If you are searching for guardianship attorneys in Montgomery County, PA, or anywhere nearby, get in touch with Slutsky Elder Law today. Attorney Robert Slutsky has almost three decades of experience as an elder law specialist, so he has the knowledge and experience it takes to ensure you will be protected if you begin to suffer from cognitive decline. Call (610) 940-0650 or fill out the contact form to speak with one of the top elder care attorneys in Pennsylvania.