Oregon Alzheimer’s Proposal Focuses on Mandatory Caregiver Training

A statewide taskforce in Oregon unveiled a proposal on Monday focusing on how to handle the growing population of those who suffer from memory impairments, including a requirement for all caregivers to get training about dementia and a recommendation to develop appropriate community-based settings of care.

Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent as the U.S. population ages, and the number of patients is expected to grow to 13.5 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The need for caregivers for this population is expanding rapidly. Much of that care is given by family and friends, who provided about $202 billion worth of unpaid care in 2010, the association said. 

“Unless the disease can be effectively treated or prevented, the number of Oregonians with ADRD (Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias) will increase significantly in the next two decades,” says the taskforce in the report. “Currently, about 76,000 Oregonians live with Alzheimer’s—and this number is expected to increase to 110,000 by 2025.”

The report also notes that more than 165,000 unpaid caregivers in Oregon provide in excess of $2.2 billion worth of care each year, which some news outlets report is equal to the hole in Oregon’s budget. 

The plan lists five goals:

  1. Enhance public awareness and engagement
  2. Optimize care quality and efficiency
  3. Protect individuals with dementia
  4. Improve access to quality care
  5. Comprehend, prevent, and effectively treat dementia and its impact

The plan’s component of mandatory training for guardians of those with dementia is expected to reduce abuse of guardianship roles, which often results in costly abuse investigations along with costs to families and state and county legal systems. 

A proposed solution is to “require that all Oregon guardians, both family and professional, receive training on dementia, as well as on the responsibilities and ethics of representing a person with dementia.” This will become mandatory by January 2015, but the plan doesn’t currently include enforcement techniques to ensure guardians receive training. 

Another way the plan may impact dementia care in Oregon is through the development of “appropriate community-based care settings” for individuals with serious behavioral needs; one of the recommendations is expected to provide a more cost-effective alternative to the current use of Oregon State Hospital. 

Long-term care costs for those with dementia are “significantly” higher than for those without, says the report.

“While most people with dementia live at home and receive unpaid help from family and friends, older adults who have ADRD are twice as likely to receive paid care as those without ADRD, and they make up a large proportion of all people who receive home care, adult day center services, assisted living, and nursing home care,” it says. 

View the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Oregon

Written by Alyssa Gerace 

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