Governor Susana Martinez announced today that her administration is creating a new position that will be dedicated to coordinating services, research, and public awareness of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Martinez wants to provide help and support to family caregivers who often feel isolated and alone.
Martinez says more than 31,000 New Mexicans have Alzheimer's disease and the number is expected to increase to 43,000 by 2025.
"This new position will allow for better communication and more collaboration between all the organizations and individuals already working with people with Alzheimer's and related dementias. Too often, we hear that families don't know where to turn or what to do next when they get a diagnosis," said Governor Martinez. "Families, who often face this terrible disease in isolation, will know that they are not alone, and that there is a clear path for help."
The Alzheimer's position will be housed at the Aging and Long-Term Services Department and will report directly to that agency's Cabinet Secretary.
The creation of the Alzheimer's coordinator position is just one part of a statewide plan Governor Martinez unveiled today to confront the growing challenge posed by Alzheimer's disease. The New Mexico State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias is the result of 18 months of work by the Aging and Long-Term Services Department, New Mexico Department of Health, and more than 60 stakeholders including the Alzheimer's Association, New Mexico Chapter.
The State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias lays out goals, and then prescribes strategies to meet them. Martinez says the new Alzheimer's position will be in charge of executing the plan, focusing on five key areas:
1. Meeting caregiver needs
2. Elevating quality of Care
3. Broadening public awareness of dementia and available resources
4. Matching health care system capacity to consumer need,
5. And increasing research effectiveness.
Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and the number of people in the U.S. is projected to rise drastically as the baby boomer generation ages. This expansion is expected to be more pronounced in New Mexico, which will be fourth among all states in the percentage of population over 65 by 2030.
"The rise of dementias poses big challenges for our state," said Aging and Long-Term Services Secretary Gino Rinaldi. "There are lots of agencies -- government, non-profit, for-profit -- doing great work in this field, but too often people and opportunities fall through the cracks. This plan works to ensure that family caregivers are trained and supported, that our state's researchers are communicating and maximizing their efforts, and that life is better for people with dementia and the larger communities that care for them."
"This is an important first step in acknowledging the growing impact that Alzheimer's has in New Mexico," said Governor Martinez.
You can read the New Mexico State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias by going to www.nmaging.state.nm.us and clicking on "Documents", then "Reports."