Colorado’s Alzheimer’s Week of Action began on March 12, 2021, with a virtual training webinar and rally led by two amazing Alzheimer’s Association volunteers, Sheri Foote and Teresa Valko. Alzheimer’s advocates from across the state gathered online to learn how to effectively advocate for legislation to improve the lives of individuals and families struggling with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
We were lucky to also hear from a state legislator who is a true champion of our cause in the Colorado General Assembly, Representative Shannon Bird, from House District 35 in western Adams County. She talked to participants about the importance of advocacy and why she is such a champion in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Throughout the week, advocates held meetings with their lawmakers over Zoom to share their stories and ask for support on impactful bills. Advocates held meetings with 27 state lawmakers, including with the Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg. We appreciate the additional lawmakers who took time to meet with us:
- Jarett Hughes, Governor Polis’ Aging Advisor
- Senators Jeff Bridges, John Cooke, Jessie Danielson, Joann Ginal, Chris Hansen, Chris Kolker, Pete Lee, Dominik Moreno, Bob Rankin, Robert Rodriguez Jim Smallwood and Tammy Story
- Representatives Mark Baisley, Shannon Bird, Terri Carver, Iman Jodeh, Chris Kennedy, Cathy Kipp, Stephanie Luck, Emily Sirota, Tom Sullivan, Brianna Titone, Tonya Van Beber, Kevin Van Winkle, Perry Will and Mary Young
Additionally, nearly 100 emails and tweets were sent to lawmakers during the week. These messages were sent by advocates from across Colorado who have committed to messaging their own lawmakers when alerted by text to dementia-related issues at the State Capitol. If you’re interested in adding your voice to these vital efforts, text ALZCO to 52886.
During their meetings, advocates discussed two important bills with lawmakers. Senate Bill 118 would create a pilot program to allow county Adult Protective Services (APS) staff to adopt an alternative approach to low risk cases when responding to reports of abuse, exploitation or other mistreatment of at-risk adults. This is important to us because every person with dementia will eventually meet the criteria of an “at-risk adult” at some point in their journey with the disease. Low risk cases are instances where providing education or support services to the family is enough to resolve the situation. In these cases, APS staff want to focus more time on providing the needed support.
The second bill advocates discussed with lawmakers is Senate Bill 158 to expand loan repayment opportunities to physician assistants and advanced practice nurses who receive additional training in geriatrics. Geriatric practitioners tend to spend more time with patients, making it easier for them to recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Increasing the number of healthcare professionals who specialize in geriatrics could help more Coloradans experiencing cognitive difficulties receive a timely dementia diagnosis. Early diagnosis allows a person to get the maximum benefit from available programs and services, participate in clinical trials, and gives families time to plan for the future.
Alzheimer’s Week of Action is a concentrated effort to communicate with as many lawmakers as possible over just a few days while the Colorado General Assembly is in session, but advocacy happens all year. If you are interested in joining our effort to use advocacy to end Alzheimer’s and support Colorado families struggling with it until that day comes, let us know by filling out this volunteer form
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.