Alzheimer’s care advocates gather at Georgia Capitol to push for change

Advocates for Alzheimer's care lean on lawmakers
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 8:16 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2023 at 12:48 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - More than 100 supporters of the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association gathered at the Georgia Capitol Wednesday to speak with lawmakers about issues that affect patients and those who care for them.

According to the association, critical issues include a request for an additional $1 million in the state budget for caregiver respite and a need for Medicaid options for patients living in assisted living communities.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, an estimated 5.6 million people 65 and older have Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

An estimated 150,000 Georgians live with Alzheimer’s, and another 336,000 Georgians serve as their caregivers.

Dan Goerke of Sandy Springs knows all too well what it’s like to care for someone who’s living with Alzheimer’s.

“It was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life,” said Goerke. “You’ve got to make sure she’s taken care of, somebody’s watching her. You’ve got to manage meds. You’ve got to get her to appointments, and you have to make sure that she’s safe.”

His wife Denise was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 at the age of 56. She died in 2021, but Dan remains active with the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association.

Budgeting for additional respite care, advocates say, would ensure that caregivers of Georgia Alzheimer’s patients would be able to care for themselves as well as their loved ones.

Ensuring Medicaid options for residents of assisted living communities is critical, advocates say, because oftentimes, such facilities are ideal for people in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Current Georgia code prohibits assisted living communities from receiving Medicaid funds.

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