On Wednesday February 27th State Senator Patricia Jehlen joined local resident Kay McCarthy and the Alzheimer’s Association for its 27th annual advocacy day at the State House.
McCarthy shared her story about her late husband’s experience with the onset of the disease and how it affected their lives. Frank McCarthy was a vibrant, fun, outgoing person, involved in local politics for over 30 years and loved by many people. Kay described the early signs of Alzheimer’s as she recognized them in her husband: change in personality, misplacing things, lack of interest in socializing, confusion, and wandering.
“I realized after several months that I could no longer safely take care of my husband at home despite all of the support and help from my family and friends,” she said. “This was the hardest decision I ever made in my life. I was fortunate to find a place where my husband would be safe and well-cared-for.”
The importance of quality care in Massachusetts was made clear through McCarthy’s story and the personal testimonies shared by other members of the Alzheimer’s Association.
With an emphasis on the success of special care unit regulations, the Alzheimer’s Association is now looking to ensure quality care in all settings. Alzheimer’s advocates spent the day promoting legislation such as Senator Jehlen’s Acute Care Act, which would establish an Alzheimer’s and related Dementias in Acute Care Advisory Committee to convene and produce written strategy to ensure acute care settings provide dementia-capable care by 2015. The legislature would also be responsible for ensuring implementation of the strategies outlined in the advisory committee’s final report.
The Alzheimer’s Association expressed its support for the Universal Guardianship Jurisdiction Law, which does not promote adult guardianship, but helps simplify many processes associated with guardianship and conservatorship. The group also spoke on behalf of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Project Act (MAPA). MAPA will create an office for Alzheimer’s disease at EOHHS to coordinate government efforts and ensure that appropriate resources are maximized and leveraged for the 120,000 individuals and their families who live with the challenges of this disease every day.
“Alzheimer’s is a devastating and fatal illness affecting more and more people,” said Sen. Jehlen. “It is now the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The guarantee of quality care would improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents living with Alzheimer’s or caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s.”
- Information and photo from State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville, Medford)