Advocate

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Join the cause

The Alzheimer’s Association invites you to become an Alzheimer advocate. Join us and speak up for the needs and rights of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

Add your voice to ours — become an advocate today.

Act Now

Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive condition in the nation. In 2014, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer's will total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Despite these staggering figures, Alzheimer's will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today's dollars) in 2050.

Coming on the heels of an unprecedented $122 million increase for Alzheimer's research, education, outreach and caregiver support in early 2014, Congress added an additional $25 million for research in the FY2015 budget. Still, a chronic underinvestment in Alzheimer's research persists.

Please thank your members of Congress for passing vital Alzheimer's legislation in 2014 and urge them to continue to support increased funding for Alzheimer's research.

 


News & Events

Advocacy Forum
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The Alzheimer's Association Montana chapter advocates and staff met with Montana senators in Washington, D.C., on March 25 during the Advocacy Forum. The visit included requests for increased Alzheimer's research funding and support of the Hope for Alzheimer's Act. Pictured from left to right: Sen. Jon Tester, Dr. Patricia Coon, chapter executive director Heidi Gibson, Ambassador Ronalee Skees and Sen. Steve Daines.


The Alzheimer's Association Montana Chapter hosted its first State Advocacy Day on Feb. 13, 2015
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Alongside more than a hundred advocates, the Montana Chapter hosted its first Advocacy Day at the state capitol to discuss Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on Montana. According to the Alzheimer's Association 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures report, there are 18,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 48,000 Alzheimer’s caregivers in Montana.  The number of Montanans with the disease is expected to be 27,000 by 2025. Click here to read more

 

What is an advocate?

Alzheimer advocates play an important role in improving the quality of care and quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families by working to improve dementia care and services; improve access to community-based care; improve quality care in residential settings; and expand funding for research and public programs serving people with dementia.

As an advocate, you will:

  • Receive regular updates about current legislative and public policy issues.
  • Stay on top of policy and legislative issues through alerts and updates.
  • Make calls or write to legislators to forward public policy priorities to improve quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s.


Ambassadors
Alzheimer's Association Ambassadors work to make legislative change on Capitol Hill and implement federal advocacy activities at the community level. Their commitment helps bring us closer to realizing our vision of a world without Alzheimer's disease. 

Ronalee Skees
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Skees serves as a liaison between the Alzheimer's Association and Congressman Ryan Zinke. She works at Immanuel Lutheran Communities in Kalispell, and she herself ran for office in HD7. Her husband Derek Skees served in the Montana House of Representatives in 2011, and they are both actively involved with the Flathead Republicans.

Joan Tooley
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Tooley serves as a liaison between the Alzheimer’s Association and Sen. Jon Tester. With an extensive media and communications background, she worked for two decades at The New Republic, the national magazine of current affairs, books and the arts. She currently is a partner at Tooley Communications, Inc. in Billings with her husband, Chuck, who is a former Billings mayor. Joan’s mother died of Alzheimer's, and Chuck’s father is currently battling the disease

Frank Vinton
Vinton serves as a liaison between the Alzheimer's Association and Congressman Steve Daines. Originally from Ringling, he currently lives in Hi-Line and is caregiver for his wife.

 

Montana advocacy

Learn more about Montana state policy priorities here.

Upcoming Town Hall meetings
Alzheimer’s Association, Big Sky Senior Services and Billings Clinic Center for Translational Research joined together in early 2014 to lay groundwork for developing a state plan. Billings Clinic secured funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to hire a facilitator and assemble a work group representing caregivers, researchers, and healthcare professionals.  Over the last year, the group has grown to over 110 members.

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Display at 2015 State Advocacy Day

Public input is crucial for this process to be considered successful. The work group will host eight town hall meetings across the state during spring/summer 2015 timeframe. We cordially invite elected officials to be partners in this process by being present to hear firsthand the feedback of citizens from frontier, rural and urban counties. The projected deadline for a draft of the state plan is December 31, 2015. 

HJ30 Dementia Interim Study hearing 
The Montana State Legislature convenes for 90 days every two years, and a great deal of work must be done in a short amount of time. In order to examine issues between sessions, interim studies are conducted. Last year, a study of the mental health system was the focus. Since dementia is a cognitive impairment, not a mental illness, it was not a focal point. However, with an estimated 42% rise in dementia patients in the next decade Rep. Ron Ehli sponsored a joint resolution to investigate the impact now and in the future.  

HJ30 Dementia Interim Study hearing (fast fwd to 27:23) was held on April 15, 2015. Special thanks goes to the following proponents:

  • HJ30 Sponsor Rep. Ron Ehli (R-Hamilton)
  • Beki Brandborg, MT State Alzheimer's Work Group representative
  • Claudia Clifford (AARP lobbyist)
  • Aimee Grmoljez (representing Dr. Coon at Billings Clinic)
  • Kathy McGowan (representing Erin McGowan, Area Agencies on Aging AAA lobbyist)
  • Beth Brenneman (Disability Rights staff attorney)

The resolution was unopposed.  

Over the past year, a newly formed Montana State Alzheimer's Work Group has been laying groundwork for a state plan. Members of the work group assembled from all over the state on February 13 for the Montana Chapter's first Advocacy Day. 


Federal advocacy