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Association statement on strengthening the long-term care workforce

Association statement on strengthening the long-term care workforce
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January 28, 2009
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Association statement on strengthening the long-term care workforce

As the leading research and advocacy organization for Alzheimer's Disease, the Alzheimer's Association applauds Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) for their commitment to improving the quality of care for individuals residing in long-term care facilities addressed in the Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act legislation.

Today, as many as 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. Approximately 70 percent of nursing home residents have some degree of cognitive impairment, and 27 percent of older adults living in the community with severe disabilities are cognitively impaired. By 2010, there will be almost a half million new cases of Alzheimer's disease each year; and by 2050, there will be almost a million new cases each year.

With an aging baby boomer population and an escalating Alzheimer crisis, it will be more imperative than ever that better training and education be provided for the myriad of individuals who care for them. From licensed health professionals to direct-care workers to family caregivers, all will need enhanced training and education to meet the unique needs of people living with dementia.

By calling for new and expanded educational centers and training programs that focus on geriatric and long-term care, this important legislation will also enhance the expertise of future healthcare professionals in a broad range of fields that impact these vulnerable populations, including psychology, nursing and social work. This will also work to alleviate the severe shortage in healthcare personnel trained to care for a rapidly increasing demographic.

With an aging baby boomer generation and more at risk for developing cognitive impairment this legislation is a tremendous step in addressing the needs of this expanding population. The Alzheimer's Association remains committed to working with Congress to ensure the needs of individuals with dementia related illnesses are met. The Association urges congressional members to support, co-sponsor and eventually pass this important legislation.

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