More Articles in This Series
ASA's Healthcare and Aging Network is discussing chronic diseases and their management, beginning with a thoughtful overview of arthritis
What is Arthritis and How Is It Treated?
Athritis: What Professionals in Aging Need to Know
Greetings to members of the Healthcare and Aging Network. No doubt many of you feel that no sooner have you recovered from the excitement of the American Society on Aging’s 2012 Aging in America conference than we are asked to consider our presentation applications for 2013. Next year’s meeting will take place in Chicago, a host city with many amusements outside the conference—Navy Pier, the Art Institute and the city’s plethora of wonderful restaurants. Hopefully, many of you will join us there.
Until then, we hope you will enjoy HAN’s newest articles on ASA’s website. For the next few quarters we will focus on chronic diseases and their management, beginning with this thoughtful overview of arthritis. Thank you to our contributors and our editorial committee for taking on this important topic.
This quarter I would like to bring HAN members up-to-date on two interesting and potentially influential activities happening on the federal level. First, and this may not be news to you, but the Administration on Aging (AOA) has merged with the Office on Disability and the newly renamed Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to become the new Administration for Community Living (ACL). This new federal agency will focus on home- and community-based care and support.
Historically, the AOA has been the federal entity that oversees Older Americans Act services such as in-home meals, congregate meals, family caregiver support programs, the senior companion program and much more. This merger is likely to bring the aging and the disability communities much closer together. The two communities share many common concerns about access to services, quality of healthcare, and the strength of home- and community-based supports for those living with disabilities. Hopefully, this merger will strengthen our voice and lead to more effective advocacy for older adults and people with disabilities who both express a strong preference for community first living options.
During the month of May we also saw our nation’s first national strategic plan to address the coming crisis of Alzheimer’s disease. There are 5.4 million people living with this condition in the United States and the number is expected to double within 20 years, and triple by mid-century. And there will be corresponding increases in the cost of publically funded healthcare. The National Alzheimer’s Project Act, NAPA, was passed unanimously by Congress last year and charged the federal government to develop a plan to address this growing epidemic.
The first annual plan for Alzheimer’s disease was released this month and will emphasize the need for federal investment in research, earlier disease recognition and diagnosis, family caregiver support and attention to the needs of special populations such as ethnically diverse people with dementia, families living with someone with early onset dementia and individuals with Down’s Syndrome, who have a disproportionately high incidence of the disease. Just as the National Cancer Act of 1971 propelled previously unimaginable advances in treatments for that highly stigmatized disease, this plan should stimulate advances in diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, the plague of the 21st Century. President Obama has supported the plan by announcing in his 2013 budget a $100 million investment in research and care. All of us in the healthcare and aging services community must remain alert to advocacy opportunities to make this vision—a world without Alzheimer’s disease—a reality.
Debra Cherry is Executive Vice President, Alzheimer’s Association California Southland and serves on ASA’s board of directors.
This article was brought to you by the editorial board of ASA’s Healthcare and Aging Network (HAN).
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