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MN Lawmakers Didn't Forget Funding for Alzheimer's

PHOTO: Minnesota is taking action to help try to determine causes of, and cures for, Alzheimer's disease, the fastest-growing medical condition in the nation. Photo credit: michael_swan/Flickr.
PHOTO: Minnesota is taking action to help try to determine causes of, and cures for, Alzheimer's disease, the fastest-growing medical condition in the nation. Photo credit: michael_swan/Flickr.
June 22, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the number of Minnesotans with Alzheimer's and related forms of dementia on the rise, the state is stepping up to support efforts around research and public awareness.

The final budget agreed upon by lawmakers and the governor sets aside $1 million for research into the causes, prevention, treatment and cure, says Jan Mueller, vice president for government affairs, Minnesota-North Dakota chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

"This will be divided probably between the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, both of which are wonderful institutions already having a strong track record in research projects in Alzheimer's disease," says Mueller.

The budget also includes $750,000 a year to be awarded as grants in communities across the state to help raise public awareness of Alzheimer's disease and provide resources for caregivers.

The legislation, SF 247/a>, had the strong support of a number of organizations that serve seniors including AARP of Minnesota.

It was authored by Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester, who says she has seen the devastating impacts of Alzheimer's firsthand, with her 84-year-old father.

"He's confined to a wheelchair and is not able to communicate," says Nelson. "And of course, we're not alone; it's the fastest growing disease in the nation. And it will literally be breaking our government budgets and, of course, personal budgets as well, if we do not start to change this trajectory now."

Also approved by lawmakers was a proposal to set up a task force to study the possible creation of a "Silver Alert" system for Minnesota. It would be similar to an AMBER Alert, in notifying law enforcement and the general public of a missing vulnerable adult.

It's estimated that about 60 percent of people with Alzheimer's will at some time wander.

There are currently about 100,000 people with Alzheimer's in Minnesota and that number continues to grow as the population continues to age.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN