LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – People who care for dementia sufferers will have to have some training under measures approved by state lawmakers and sent to the governor.
And advocates say it’s an important step forward.
Senate Bill 61 and Senate Bill 74 aimed at improving Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care address the needs of the more than 75,000 people in Kentucky living with Alzheimer’s and the 149,000 Kentuckians who serve as their unpaid caregivers.
Senate Bill 61, sponsored by Senator Stephen Meredith, would require six hours of dementia-specific, dementia-competent training for home health and personal service aides who are providing care and services to individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in their homes and communities.
The bill will also require three hours of continuing education on an annual basis.
To ensure provider compliance, this bill includes a consumer protection provision which ensures provider accountability.
“My primary interest in sponsoring this legislation was to provide support for families in recognition of the tremendous personal and unheralded sacrifice they make to ensure their loved ones are receiving the quality of care they richly deserve,” said Meredith. “I want them to know they are not alone in this struggle as we work to find a cure.”
Senate Bill 74, sponsored by Senator Ralph Alvarado, would establish a permanent position within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services known as the Dementia Services Coordinator.
This position will, among many other duties, manage the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Council, the state plan to address Alzheimer’s in Kentucky and apply for federal funding opportunities.
Like many Kentuckians, Representative Lisa Willner (D, KY-35), has a personal connection to this disease.
“I’m one of a huge and growing number of Kentuckians whose family has been deeply affected by Alzheimer’s. I know firsthand the toll this illness takes on families and caregivers,” said Willner. “I’m proud of the good bipartisan work we did this session to improve training for care providers, and to better coordinate resources for families and people living with this terrible disease.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter played a critical role in initiating this legislation.
Mackenzie Wallace Longoria, Alzheimer’s Association Greater KY and Southern IN Chapter Director of Public Policy, stated, “Senate Bills 61 and 74 are going to have a direct and tangible impact on Kentuckians living with this disease, their caregivers and our workforce. While we have a long way to go, these bills represent Kentucky getting on the path to becoming a truly dementia-capable state.”