After losing my father to Alzheimer’s disease more than two years ago, I vowed to do everything in my power to help other families facing this growing public health crisis. As a volunteer advocate with the Alzheimer’s Association, it is my mission to raise public awareness and urge my legislators to make ending Alzheimer’s disease a priority. While it is no small feat, I am eternally grateful that Assemblymember Monique Limón and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara have answered the call in the State Legislature.
Alzheimer’s disease has reached epidemic proportions and is on the rise. The number of Alzheimer’s deaths in California has increased by 268 percent between 2000 and 2017, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the state. In the absence of an effective treatment or cure, just 45 percent of people affected nationally have been formally diagnosed by a clinician, leaving too many families and caregivers without adequate answers, planning, and support.
AB 388, introduced by Assemblymember Limón and co-authored by Senator Jackson, would initiate local efforts to build a statewide public health infrastructure to address Alzheimer’s disease through the implementation of the CDC Public Health Roadmap (known as the Healthy Brain Initiative). Alongside a $10 million onetime budget investment, the bill would launch a statewide public awareness campaign to reduce stigma associated with Alzheimer’s, and it would fund eight county pilot projects to improve early detection and diagnosis. It is a modest investment of millions that would save billions as California’s Alzheimer’s-related Medi-Cal costs are projected to jump 32 percent by 2025 to nearly $5 billion annually.
The budget proposal has passed out of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee and is now on to the Senate.
I send Assemblymember Limón a heartfelt thank you for being a champion in the fight against Alzheimer’s and for her bold vision to improve public awareness and early detection and diagnosis.