Governor Tom Corbett today announced his approval of the Pennsylvania State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD), which proposes recommendations and a strategic approach to addressing the growth of the disease and related disorders in Pennsylvania.
The plan was developed by the Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Disease State Planning Committee, which Governor Corbett created by executive order last year.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, it is estimated that more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians are currently living with ADRD and, nationwide, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
"The prevalence of this disease is of great concern, and a diagnosis is both heartbreaking and life-changing for many families and older Pennsylvanians," Corbett said. "I thank Secretary Duke, committee members and public meeting participants for sharing their experiences and suggestions throughout this process. I believe we have developed a strong action plan to address Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders."
The Pennsylvania State Plan for ADRD reflects a consensus from the committee on how to respond effectively to the disease, with seven recommendations including:
Improve awareness, knowledge and sense of urgency about medical, social and financial implications of ADRD across the commonwealth;
Due to the magnitude of the ADRD epidemic, identify financial resources where possible to implement this plan through federal, state, foundation, private and other innovative funding mechanisms and partnerships;
Promote brain health and cognitive fitness across the life cycle from birth onward;
Provide a comprehensive continuum of ethical care and support that responds to social and cultural diversity, with services and supports ranging from early detection and diagnosis through end-of-life care;
Enhance support for family and non-professional caregivers and those living with ADRD;
Build and retain a competent, knowledgeable, ethical and caring workforce; and
Promote and support novel and ongoing research to find better and effective cures, treatments and prevention strategies for ADRD.
The plan also emphasizes the importance of collaboration among caregivers, state officials and legislators, organizations, academic and teaching entities, healthcare providers, and individuals living with ADRD and their families.
"These recommendations will help guide Pennsylvania's leaders to support individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders and those caring for them," said Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Brian Duke, who also served as chairperson of the committee. "I commend Governor Corbett for his commitment to older Pennsylvanians and his foresight in guiding this strategic approach."
"This honors a diligent, year-long effort by the committee and marks another step forward for Pennsylvanians afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders," said Bob Marino, co-chair, Pennsylvania Public Policy Coalition and board member, Delaware Valley Chapter, Alzheimer's Association. "I thank Governor Corbett for his support and commitment."
Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest population percentage of elderly persons in the nation. As this population continues to grow, so does the prevalence of the disease.
The Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Disease Planning Committee, in conjunction with the Department of Aging, conducted regional public meetings and gathered written comments to obtain advice from organizations, subject matter experts and caregivers in developing the plan.