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Arkansas House advances bill to prioritize response to Alzheimer’s and Dementia

House Bill 1434 would create an Advisory Council to help prioritize and coordinate Arkansas’s response to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Theba Lolley knows firsthand how challenging the journey of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be.

Alzheimer's is a growing public health crisis in Arkansas, and the number of caregivers like Theba is also rising.

There are currently 178,000 state residents providing an estimated 203 million hours of unpaid care at an uncompensated value of more than 2.6 billion dollars.

Theba is active on social media about raising awareness about the joys of caregiving as well as the unique challenges and impact that dementia creates.

David Cook, Public Policy Manager for the Alzheimer's Association-Arkansas Chapter joins Theba for a conversation about House Bill 1434, legislation that would create an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council.

“Without proper planning, there will be increases in those needing long-term care often at a very high cost to the state’s Medicaid program,” says Cook.

In 2019, Medicaid spending was $396 million, and those costs are expected to increase more than 14.3 percent by 2025.

“It’s important for the state to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that our workforce, healthcare professionals, and care settings are prepared to meet the unique needs of persons living with Alzheimer’s,” says Cook.

House Bill 1434 creates a mechanism for the state to begin to prioritize its response to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Credit: Alzheimer's Association-Arkansas Chapter

“This would identify the gaps in services that currently exist and develop a strategy to begin addressing those gaps and improving care and support services for families who are impacted by this disease,” says Cook.

The legislation passed the House and now will be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks.

The attention of advocates is currently focused on the Senate side to create awareness about the legislation. David says the simple act of sharing your story has a profound impact on state lawmakers.

How can individuals help?

    1. TEXT ALZAC to 52886: You will receive a text alert back so you can take action right from your phone.
    2. For more information, contact dmcook@alz.org.
    3. Follow Alzheimer's Association - Arkansas Chapter on social media.