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Abbey Hunton, 215-399-9151, email@example.com
Michelle Swab, MSwab@pahousegop.com
Pennsylvania Governor Wolf Signs Bill Addressing Early Detection and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Laying the Foundation for a Public Health Response to the Crisis in Pennsylvania
An historic victory for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley and Greater Pennsylvania Chapters, this law is a step forward in uniting patients and health care providers around cognitive concerns leading to early detection and diagnosis
HARRISBURG, PA, February 9, 2022 – Across the commonwealth, Alzheimer’s and dementia advocates have much to celebrate in their fight to end Alzheimer’s. Today, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 1082—known as the Early Detection and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a Related Disorder Act. The development and passage of this bill was made possible by the leadership and advocacy of State Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso from Allegheny County (District 33).
House Bill 1082 establishes a framework for tackling the Alzheimer’s crisis in the state through a coordinated public health response, by bringing issues related to the detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias under the purview of the PA Department of Health. The Bill also calls on the Department to collaborate with other public and private stakeholders in order to broaden the general public's awareness and understanding of the early warning signs of cognitive decline, imploring them to have conversations with their health care providers about memory concerns.
“When it comes to cognitive health, early detection and diagnosis is paramount–and early intervention is key to obtaining proper care, and planning for the future,” said Jennifer Ebersole, Director of State Government Affairs for the Alzheimer's Association. “Our state’s aging population is one of the largest in the country, and it will only continue to grow. Legislation like this, which directly addresses the needs of Pennsylvania residents and establishes a foundation for future collaboration and intervention, are really where we see promise in Pennsylvania’s ability to address, and hopefully, curtail this public health crisis.”
There are 280,000 Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older who are living with Alzheimer’s disease, but so many more may go undiagnosed. In fact, one in 10 Pennsylvanians aged 45 and older report they are experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or is getting worse, yet nearly half of them have not talked to a health care professional about it. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner an individual and their family can start planning for the future, which oftentimes allows the individual with the diagnosis to participate in decision-making when their cognition is least impacted.
“Advocating for health care initiatives and authoring this specific legislation provides a proactive tool for preventing long term obstacles for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and all other related disorders associated with cognitive decline,” said Rep. Lewis DelRosso. “I am grateful to have House Bill 1082 pass unanimously in the House and Senate to create not only a preventative tool, but also provide a cost-effective way for families and friends to assist with the protection of their loved ones. I have had many conversations with constituents and health care providers who support this legislation due to families being unprepared for this multi-billion dollar health care problem.”
A formal diagnosis allows people living with dementia to have access to available treatments and interventions, build a care team, participate in support services, and potentially enroll in clinical trials. Individuals and their caregivers can also work together to better manage medications, receive counseling, address the challenges of other chronic conditions, and plan for future legal, financial and care needs.
Ultimately, the passing of this law will also ensure the health care community stays abreast of and informed about cognitive health and changes in the field by providing educational resources, such as a toolkit, specific to early detection, diagnosis and care planning.
“This bill is a tremendous milestone for the Association, and for the hundreds of thousands across the Commonwealth who are impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementia in some way. And while it is a step forward in addressing this public health crisis, the work is not complete. More will be needed in the months and years to come to ensure those in need have access to care and resources, and that those in the health care community are equipped to assess, diagnose, and provide care for those with cognitive decline,” said Kristina Fransel, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter.
The impact of this legislation goes beyond just ensuring our aging population has access to care and support needed, but it ensures the health care community is prepared and educated, and that policy makers in Pennsylvania are working in a coordinated, forward-looking way to address this growing public health crisis.
Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter resources, support and information is always available — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — at alz.org/delval, or through the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.
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.