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Gem State Set to Tackle Alzheimer’s Issues

March 27, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho is seeing a "first" today. Governor Butch Otter will sign the first-ever legislation to put together a state plan for dealing with Alzheimer's.

AARP Idaho state president Peggy Munson says it's a big issue for the Gem State, which is projected to have the fifth-highest increase in Alzheimer's cases nationwide in the coming years, and where tens of thousands are already living with the disease.

People diagnosed with Alzheimer's need care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and Munson points out that's a big job for caregivers, usually family members.

"You can do that for a while, but when they get into the various serious stages where they're roaming, they're falling, getting the adequate nutrition into them. I mean, it just exhausts the caregiver."

Munson says she expects a local clearinghouse for information and resources will be one recommendation. She's talked to people around the state who are more fearful of Alzheimer's than cancer.

"People need to know where they can get treatment early, support for the caregivers, getting good education out, and letting caregivers know where they can turn."

Munson says focus groups will be held around the state to gather ideas for the plan. The Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group will be working on specifics for future legislation. Idaho is one of about a dozen states that now lack such a plan.

Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 112 will be signed at 10 a.m., Governor's Ceremonial Office. AARP Idaho, BSU's Center for the Study of Aging, and Idaho Commission on Aging are some of the members of the Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group.

More information on the group is at hs.boisestate.edu.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID