By Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The state needs to better help residents with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their families and be prepared to address an expected increase in patients over the next decade, the Montana Alzheimer’s/Dementia Work Group said.

The 40-member volunteer work group, which has met over the past two years, released its Montana Alzheimer’s State Plan on Monday.

Montana needs more high-quality, affordable home and community-based services for patients as well as training and tools for health care providers so they can make accurate and early diagnoses, the group said. They also want to see more training and support for family caregivers and for respite workers to lessen the stress on family caregivers.

“Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient typically leaves the caregivers not only financially stressed, but emotionally and physically unwell,” said Lynn Mullowney, executive director of the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Loved ones who provide caregiving more typically have depression and greater risk of early mortality.”

The need for a coordinated response is only going to increase, Mullowney said. Currently, 19,000 Montana residents have some type of dementia, and that number is expected to increase to nearly 27,000 by 2025, she said.

Other recommendations include allowing dementia patients to live in the least-restrictive setting and to have activities available to promote wellness and cognitive function, as well as ensuring patients and their caregivers are aware of legal and financial planning information that is available.

Some of the recommendations will be forwarded to the Legislature for financial support while others may be provided by public/private partnerships and in other ways.

The work group supports a ballot issue that calls for spending more money to research neurological diseases, Mullowney said.

Montanans for Research and Cures has turned in its signatures to the Secretary of State’s office and believes it has enough to get Initiative 181 on the ballot. The initiative would raise $20 million a year for 10 years through state-issued bonds to fund research grants for brain diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, brain cancer, autism and mental illnesses.



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