The 2021 session of the Colorado General Assembly looked different this year, but legislators did not let that impede their work. Session began on January 13, but legislators quickly recessed for a “COVID break” to be vaccinated, so they could safely resume their work in person within the Capitol complex. Session resumed on February 16 and continued through June 8. During that time, legislators considered more than 600 bills, including several impacting Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and their caregivers.
We want to thank our Alzheimer’s State Champions for their passion, time and effort engaging their state legislators this session! Their willingness to use their dementia stories to educate lawmakers and advocate for change is a vital component of our collective effort to end Alzheimer’s and other dementias and support families impacted by it until that day comes.
New Laws Support Coloradans Impacted by Dementia
The Alzheimer’s Association actively supported several bills that will improve the lives of Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and those caring for them. Our organization did not actively oppose any bills this session. All of the bills listed below were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Polis.
HB 1122, First Responder Training
The goal of this new law is to improve how first responders interact with Coloradans living with disabilities, including those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The legislation establishes a commission to study and recommend changes to existing first responder training programs. The commission must start its work by October 15, 2021 and any new training must be implemented by July 1, 2022.
Thank you State Senator Chris Kolker
, State Senator Joann Ginal
, State Representative Meg Froelich
and State Representative Colin Larson
for leading the effort to help improve interactions between Coloradans with dementia and first responders.
HB 1123, Protecting Seniors
This new law relates to the protection of at-risk adults, which include people living with dementia, who lack the capacity to make or understand decisions about their health, safety and welfare. Under existing law, when an employer is hiring a healthcare worker who will directly interact with at-risk adults, the employer must perform a check of the Colorado Adult Protective Services (CAPS) system. The CAPS system contains records of people who have substantiated claims of mistreatment against at-risk adults, such as abuse, neglect or exploitation. The intent is to ensure that people who have mistreated at-risk adults in the past are not hired to care for them in the future.
This new law expands the CAPS check program by requiring courts to request a CAPS check before appointing someone as a guardian or conservator to an at-risk adult. It also allows information about a substantiated case of mistreatment to be shared with our state’s professional licensing agency if the perpetrator of the mistreatment is a licensed healthcare worker. These changes take effect on September 7, 2021.
Thank you State Senator Rhonda Fields
, State Senator Jim Smallwood
, State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet
and State Representative Colin Larson
for helping to protect Coloradans living with dementia.
SB 118, Improving the Adult Protective Services System
The Adult Protective Services (APS) program investigates allegations of mistreatment of at-risk adults, including Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The program also connects those at-risk adults and family members to community supports and services when needed.
This new law gives APS program staff more flexibility in how they respond in certain cases. It will enable them to more appropriately adapt their response to the needs of each situation.
Thank you to State Senator Joann Ginal
, State Senator Bob Gardner
, State Representative Marc Snyder
and State Representative Rod Pelton
for helping to improving our state’s APS program.
SB 158, Healthcare Providers Specializing in Geriatrics
Our state operates the Health Service Corps program, which provides loan repayment to healthcare providers who agree to work in parts of the state with provider shortages. Only certain providers can apply to participate in the program.
This new law expands the list of providers who can apply to participate to advance practice nurses and physician assistants who have additional training in geriatrics. This is important for Coloradans with Alzheimer’s or other dementias because geriatric providers tend to spend more time with patients and have more knowledge about chronic diseases that impact older adults. The intent of this new law is to encourage more healthcare providers to acquire geriatrics training and provide care in underserved parts of our state.
Thank you State Senator Jessie Danielson
, State Senator Brittany Pettersen
, State Representative Brianna Titone
and State Representative Monica Duran
for helping to expand the number of healthcare providers with geriatrics training in Colorado.
SB 145, Alzheimer’s Association Participation in the Tax Check Off Program
Under existing law, an individual in Colorado has the option to donate all or part of their state tax refund (if they are receiving a refund) to a charitable organization doing work in Colorado. A handful of organizations are currently listed on the individual income tax form for this purpose, and the Alzheimer’s Association is one of them.
This new law simply ensures that the Alzheimer’s Association remains listed on the Colorado individual income tax form for this purpose.
Thank you State Senator Cleave Simpson
and State Representative Donald Valdez
for helping to ensure we can keep supporting Coloradans impacted by dementia for years to come.
Alzheimer’s Virtual Week of Action Made an Impact
Coloradans from across our state participated in Alzheimer’s Week of Action in mid-March 2021. This event 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. We asked state lawmakers to make dementia a priority and pass specific bills
to support those impacted by it. Advocates gathered online to learn how to effectively tell their dementia story and about legislation to improve the lives of all Coloradans impacted by dementia. They also heard from one of our community’s legislative champions, State Representative Shannon Bird (watch her video
). Alzheimer’s Virtual Week of Action resulted in 40 Alzheimer’s advocates holding virtual meetings with 27 state legislators and nearly 100 emails to lawmakers!
Your Dementia Story Can Make a Difference – Join Us!
Advocacy happens all year, and lawmakers care most about what their constituents think. Your experience with dementia can help educate lawmakers and influence the way they vote on policies that could help Coloradans across our state who are living with dementia or caring for a loved one with it. We give you all the tools you need to make a difference. You can indicate your interest by filling out our (very short) volunteer form
or by reaching out to Eric Heydorn, Advocacy Manager, at email@example.com
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.