On September 16, 2020, the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter surprised Representative Sharon Cooper with the 2020 Alzheimer’s Association Legislator of the Year Award. She was awarded this honor during a program highlighting the details and impact of the bill she sponsored during the 2020 legislative session, which will significantly improve the quality of care provided to people living with dementia in Memory Care Communities across the state. The hard-fought legislation was signed by the Governor on July 1, 2020 and will take effect on July 1, 2021. Rep. Cooper led a bipartisan effort to secure support for this important legislation and she worked tirelessly to ensure that the needs of people living with dementia were addressed in the language and intention of the bill.
Reduce Costly Long-Term Care by Investing in Home & Community Based Services
Medicaid expenditures in Georgia for people with dementia is expected to increase 26% over the next five years. Much of that expense is associated with costly residential long-term care. Increasing access to home & community based services (HCBS) can delay admission into a LTC setting. Services such as home delivered- meals, personal emergency response systems and adult day health programs help support family caregivers. In 2019 alone, 540,000 dementia caregivers provided over 600 million hours of unpaid care. The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter supports the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE) request for a $10 Million increase in HCBS funding for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. It is critical that the General Assembly invest in home & community based programs now to ensure Georgians can remain in their communities for as long as possible.
Ensure Disaster Planning Equity
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to prioritize vulnerable populations more effectively when planning for disaster response. The elderly, especially those living with dementia, have borne the brunt of this pandemic, as evidenced by the death rates among people 65 and over. In addition, the CDC excess death statistics indicate significantly higher deaths in 2020 attributable to Alzheimer’s and dementia than previous years. Georgia’s excess death rate due to Alzheimer’s and dementia was 26% higher through October than the average over the previous five years. The Alzheimer's Association, along with the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE), are urging the legislature to address disaster planning equity by ensuring that vulnerable populations and the providers that serve them are prioritized.
Secure final approval of the 2020-2023 Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan (GARD) Update
Throughout 2020, the Alzheimer’s Association in partnership with the the GARD Collaborative, the GARD Advisory Council and other stakeholders, revised and refined the content of the original GARD State Plan that was signed in 2014 by Governor Deal. The updated Plan includes measurable goals and reduces overlap between the established committees’ work in order to ensure a more coordinated response to Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging Governor Kemp to approve the Updated Plan to then enable prompt implementation of the recommendations.
Secure a Memory Care Certification Ladder-Up Program within the CNA Curriculum
With the passage of HB 987 in 2020, Alzheimer’s advocates secured a significant improvement in the dementia training requirements for all assisted living staff with enhanced training now required for memory care providers. The Alzheimer’s Association will continue working with the Department of Community Health to ensure the effective implementation of this new law which is set to take effect on July 1, 2021. In addition, the Alzheimer’s Association will continue our collaboration with the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) to improve the quantity and quality of the dementia training portion of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. With the CNA program now available tuition free through the HOPE Career Grant program at TCSG, the Alzheimer’s Association will work with TCSG to seek the development of a memory-care certification to ensure we have a workforce ready to serve the growing dementia population in Georgia.
Georgia State Plan Overview
In 2013, the Georgia General Assembly established the Georgia Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias State Plan Task Force through passage of Senate Bill 14 to research the current and future impact of the disease and develop a strategy to mobilize the state response to the growing public health threat posed by Alzheimer's. The Task Force included representatives from state agencies, local health departments, research institutes, law enforcement, care provider associations, elder law, and community organizations as well as state legislators, caregivers, community members, and individuals directly impacted by Alzheimer's. Building upon previous work completed by the Georgia Division of Aging Services, the Task Force solicited public input and drafted the Georgia Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias State Plan. The plan was published in June 2014.
Georgia State Advocacy Day
March 01, 2021
Join fellow Alzheimer’s advocates for an exciting week of virtual advocacy urging Georgia state lawmakers to support people with dementia and their families. Over the course of a week, we will have a series of informative and engaging virtual events for all individuals and families who want to support our efforts. We will kickoff our Alzheimer’s Awareness Week on Monday, March 1st with a virtual event, in which we will provide an overview of our legislative priorities and hear directly from advocates and state officials leading our efforts. Throughout the remainder of the week, we will advocate on multiple fronts, including through virtual meetings, phone calls, tweets, and emails, to ensure our legislators understand the importance of supporting critical Alzheimer’s issues. Much more is planned so don’t miss out!