Advocates Push for Rapid Testing in Long-Term Care Facilities
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Advocates are asking Gov. Bill Lee to supply Tennessee's long-term care facilities with rapid coronavirus testing, with the goal of being able to reunite residents with their families faster.
Since early spring, long-term care facilities across the state have closed their doors to visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rachel Blackhurst, public policy and advocacy director with the Alzheimer's Association's Tennessee Chapter, said because social isolation among people with dementia can speed decline and worsen cognitive abilities, having access to rapid-turnaround testing is critical for residents, staff and visitors.
Support Dementia Caregivers by Establishing an Alzheimer’s Respite Care Program
There are over 444,000 Tennesseans providing unpaid care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Providing this care often comes at a great expense both financially and to the caregiver’s health. Those who take on the exhausting labor of love that is caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s need support. The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on state policymakers to enact legislation to deliver home and community-based services including respite to those living alone with Alzheimer's and those being cared for in home by a family member or other informal caregiver. The Colonel Thomas G. Bowden Memorial Act will create a pilot program, OPTIONS for Dementia Care, which will provide Tennesseans with Alzheimer's and dementia with services such as respite care, homemaker services, personal care, and home delivered meals.
Increase Education on Early Detection and Timely Diagnosis
Currently, only 50% of those living with Alzheimer's disease receive a formal diagnosis. This needs to change. Educating clinicians, public health professionals and the public on the early warning signs of Alzheimer's and other dementias and the importance of a timely diagnosis is the first step in ensuring that anyone diagnosed with this disease can benefit from future treatments, care planning and clinical trials. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging legislators to support legislation to incorporate Alzheimer’s into existing public health campaigns to increase education among the public and health care providers on the benefits of early detection and diagnosis, risk reduction, and care planning.
Tennessee State Plan Overview
In July 2007, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 826 (Public Chapter No. 566) establishing the Tennessee Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force (TADTF) to assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Tennessee, examine services and resources, and draft a state strategy to respond to Alzheimer’s within the state. The Task Force included representatives from long-term care organizations, adult day providers, physician groups, community organizations, state agencies, caregivers, individuals living with the disease and state legislators. In February 2009 the Task Force published the Tennessee Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force Final Report.
In May of 2019, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 28 (Public Chapter No. 364) establishing the Tennessee Alzheimer's Disease Advisory Council to assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer's disease in Tennessee, examine services and resources, and draft a state strategy to respond to Alzheimer's within the state. The Advisory Council includes representatives from long-term care organizations, stakeholders, physician groups, community organizations, state agencies, caregivers, individuals living with the disease, and state legislators. In January 2020 the Advisory Council published the updated Alzheimer's and Related Dementia State Plan.
Tennessee State Advocacy Day
March 08, 2021
Join your fellow Alzheimer's advocates for an exciting week of advocacy! We will kick off our week of virtual advocacy on Monday, March 8th with a rally and an advocacy 101 training with Tennessee's policy team. Learn tips for effective communication, storytelling, and engagement on Alzheimer's policy priorities. Attendees will have the opportunity throughout the week to engage one-on-one with elected officials to tell personal stories and garner support for Alzheimer's legislation. We will cap off the week with a town hall style meeting with legislative leadership. Hope to see you there!