Amazing Advocates Are Achieving Amazing Things!
Alzheimer’s Association advocates are caregivers, parents, husbands, wives, professionals and students, who despite busy lives and all of the obstacles that the world throws up, find the time to help make a difference in the lives of others. It should be no surprise then that when people who embody selflessness in its purest form come together and push for change, they accomplish amazing things.
Last year, 34 advocates traveled with the association to our nation’s capital for the 2015 Advocacy Forum and nearly 200 made the trip to Springfield for the Illinois Action Summit. After meeting with state and federal lawmakers, sharing personal stories and demonstrating how Alzheimer’s Association initiatives would improve the lives of thousands of Illinoisans, Congress increased federally funded Alzheimer’s disease research by 59.7 percent and the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed Silver Search, which will create a comprehensive coordination, awareness and search program for missing adults believed to have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
This April, 53 ambassadors and team members got on airplanes and headed for Washington D.C., a record number from Illinois! After two days of interactive workshops, teambuilding and training, advocates stormed Capitol Hill, urging elected officials to further invest in Alzheimer’s disease research and support the association’s main federal public policy priorities: the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act (H.R. 1559/S. 857), which would require documentation of dementia diagnoses and provide Medicare coverage for post-diagnosis care planning; and a new measure, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 3119/S. 2748), also known as PCHETA.
PCHETA would expand the availability of hospice and palliative care by providing federal grants for education and training in these fields of medicine, which reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and improve patients’ quality of life. As of May 12, less than six weeks after we departed, eight of Illinois’ 20 member congressional delegation had signed on as cosponsors!
One week after the Advocacy Forum, record numbers of advocates then met in Springfield for the Illinois Action Summit to continue the work of making Illinois a dementia-capable state. Every day, families across Illinois are faced with the daunting task of finding compassionate, qualified care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. These families should not have to worry about whether those claiming to be qualified actually are they have enough to worry about.
State Sen. David Koehler from Peoria, who recently lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s disease, and state Rep. Deb Conroy joined the Alzheimer’s Association in leading a coalition that passed Senate Bill 2301, the Illinois Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services Act, unanimously through the General Assembly. When signed into law by the governor, this will put in place minimum training standards for employees of long-term care facilities and residential or community-based programs that advertise dementia-specific services, helping to ensure people living with Alzheimer’s receive the care they deserve.
None of these recent successes, or the victories that are sure to come, would be possible without our amazing team of advocates sharing the common dream of a world without Alzheimer’s® and coming together to make it happen!
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