State Releases Alzheimer’s Plan

Cheyenne, WY – Oct. 8, 2018 – Today, the Wyoming Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in collaboration with representatives from the Wyoming Department of Health’s Aging Division, the Wyoming Center on Aging at UW, St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health, AARP Wyoming, the Office of Governor Matt Mead, and other members of the Wyoming Alzheimer’s & Dementia Work Group, released the first Wyoming State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias.

The thirty-two-page plan is the result of over two years of work by the work group, which consists of sixteen specialists from nine different state organizations concerned with the future of dementia care in the Cowboy State. Until now, Wyoming was one of a very few states without a state plan to address dementia.

“There are nearly 10,000 Wyomingites living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. As the baby boomers age, that number is expected to increase to nearly 13,000 by 2025,” according to Janet Lewis, Executive Director of the Wyoming Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “In Wyoming, the 2017 Medicaid costs of caring for people with Alzheimer’s were $71 million. These costs are expected to increase in the next seven years by over fifty-two percent.”

Alzheimer’s and dementia are degenerative brain diseases that damage nerve cells responsible for cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation and in Wyoming. As the state population continues to age, the financial, physical and emotional burdens of Alzheimer’s and dementia will continue to escalate.

“I commend the efforts of the work group to create a plan that addresses the needs of Wyoming dementia sufferers, their caregivers and healthcare providers,” said Governor Mead. “Anyone with loved ones suffering from dementia should learn more about the state plan and get involved. Together we can make Wyoming a place where dementia patients know they are treated with dignity and respect.”

To inform the work of the group, a statewide Alzheimer’s Needs Assessment was completed, which consisted of ten Town Hall Listening Sessions held last year throughout Wyoming, including on the Wind River Reservation. For those citizens who were unable to attend a Listening Session, the Wyoming Center on Aging, based at the University of Wyoming, administered an on-line Needs Assessment Survey.

Eight goals were incorporated into the final Plan:
1. Maximize awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/RD)
2. Create a central point of access for information and referral.
3. Improve coordination among providers across care settings in which individuals with AD/RD take part.
4. Improve access to long-term care residential facilities which specialize in care for those with AD/RD.
5. Increase access to funding, to expand services that individuals with AD/RD use.
6. Expand Wyoming’s ability to provide individuals with AD/RD, who are near the end of life, with high-quality, palliative focused care.
7. Ensure that Wyomingites with AD/RD, their families, and caregivers are aware of, and have access to, Wyoming-specific materials regarding legal and financial resources for decision-making upon incapacity.
8. Develop and maintain a professional workforce that has the awareness, knowledge and skills to care competently for persons living with AD/RD and their caregivers.

The Wyoming State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias is a living document. Activities completed by the work group and identified stakeholders will be structured according to the short, intermediate, and long term time frames assigned to the goals. The work group will produce periodic, and as needed reports to inform interested parties as to any new information on the subject. Reports will include any work that has been accomplished in the previous year.

Please visit the website of the Wyoming Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for a copy of the plan at: http://www.alz.org/wyoming

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