GOVERNOR SIGNS ALZHEIMER’S BILL INTO LAW

By Bob Katzen

Gov. Baker signed into law a bill requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to conduct an assessment of all state programs that address Alzheimer’s disease and to create and maintain an integrated state plan to address and assist in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The ceremonial signing took place during an event at the Alzheimer’s Association in Waltham.

Other provisions require that all protective service caseworkers receive training on recognizing signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s; require that all doctors, physicians assistants and nurses who serve adult populations complete a one-time course of training on diagnosis, treatment and care of people with Alzheimer’s; require hospitals to create and implement an operational plan for the recognition of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia and treatment for those patients; and require physicians to report an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to a member of a patient’s family (or a personal representative) and provide the family with information about understanding the diagnosis, creating care plans, and accessing medical and non-medical treatment options.

“Today marks the final step in Massachusetts’ journey towards reversing the course of the public health crisis that is Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough), House Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs. “I am so proud that Massachusetts will lead the country yet again with this comprehensive legislation that addresses not only those suffering from this disease but also their caregivers and healthcare providers.”

“Almost everyone we meet these days has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s as thousands of seniors and younger adults suffer from the disease across our commonwealth,” said Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), whose late mother Claire Sullivan L’Italien died from Alzheimer’s last April. “For me it was my mom, who lived in our home with us for seven of the last ten years of her life as she struggled with Alzheimer’s. Navigating her diagnosis and care taught me just how difficult it can be even for the most informed families …Today, we are making Massachusetts a national leader for those families.”

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