BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced the passage of legislation to help the hundreds of thousands of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families in Massachusetts.

“Alzheimer’s disease permeates nearly every community in our country, forcing millions of families to suffer through the pain of having loved ones gradually forget the people and memories they previously cherished,” said Senator Moore. “The burden placed on these families can be overwhelming as they struggle to best take care of their ailing family member while dealing with their own grief and heartache brought on by their loved one’s memory loss. I’m proud to have supported this important piece of legislation to help address the impact of Alzheimer’s here in our Commonwealth.”

There are more than 130,000 people in Massachusetts with Alzheimer’s disease supported by 337,000 family caregivers, and that number is growing. Alzheimer’s is a true public health crisis; it has become increasingly common and is the most expensive disease in America yet Massachusetts struggles to properly diagnose and inform patients that they have the debilitating disease. Fewer than 50% of patients with Alzheimer’s are properly diagnosed, and fewer than half of those are properly informed of their diagnosis. Further compounding the problem is the projected rise in the incidence of Alzheimer’s; nearly 150,000 people will have the disease by 2025 in Massachusetts alone.

Senator Michael O. Moore, Governor Charles D. Baker, members of the Legislature and advocates attend the ceremonial signing of legislation on August 15, 2018. [Submitted photo]

The bill supports improving diagnosis, treatment, and care for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and focuses on providing essential information to patients and their families about understanding an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, creating and coordinating a care plan, and accessing both medical and non-medical treatments critically necessary to living with the disease.

The legislation passed in the Senate also helps patients and their families receive better, more comprehensive care. Caregiving for people with Alzheimer’s is an energy- and time-intensive endeavor and when medical emergencies occur for unrelated conditions, people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias often fare poorly in the acute care setting. This bill helps ensure that caseworkers, medical providers and hospital administrators and staff better understand Alzheimer’s disease so that they can provide the best treatment possible for patients and clients who are brought to them.

The bill supports individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their families by:

• Tasking the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to develop and assess all state programs that address Alzheimer’s and create recommendations and implementation steps to address issues related to Alzheimer’s
• Creating an advisory council for Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment
• Requiring that all protective service caseworkers receive training on recognizing signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s
• Requiring that all doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurses who serve adult populations complete a one-time course of training on diagnosis, treatment and care of people with Alzheimer’s
• Requiring physicians to report an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to a member of a patient’s family (or a personal representative) and provide the family with information about understanding the diagnosis, creating care plans, and accessing medical and non-medical treatment options
• Requiring hospitals to create and implement an operational plan for the recognition of patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia and treatment for those patients.

To view the newly-signed law, codified as Chapter 220 of the Acts of 2018, please visit the Legislature’s website www.malegislature.gov.