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Kansas Developing A State Alzheimer’s Disease Plan ... Again

flickr, Creative Commons

A task force begins work next month on updating the Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Plan.

A statewide plan to address anticipated growth in the number of Alzheimer’s patients was released earlier this year but was never implemented.

Gov. Laura Kelly recently appointed 13 people from across the state to develop new recommendations and strategies. Five are from Wichita: Jamie Gideon, director of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association; Robert Miller, operator of ComfortCare Homes and Comfort Keeper; Steve Harader, a member on the Board of Directors for Mayflower Clinic; Janie Krull with Via Christi Health research operations; and Dr. Stephen Benson.

Taskforce chair Jamie Gideon says the group will build on the existing plan.

“I think that the finished product is going to be great, and something that the governor can use and act on and also the state Legislature as well,” Gideon says.

The task force will assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease on Kansas residents; examine the existing industries, services and resources addressing the needs of people with Alzheimer’s, their families, and caregivers; as well as develop a strategy to mobilize a state response.

Last year, then-Gov. Jeff Colyer issued the same duties to a working group he assembled. The group developed the state’s first Alzheimer’s Disease plan. Kansas was the last state to adopt a coordinated response to what is described as a looming public health crisis.

Gideon says implementing a state Alzheimer’s plan is vital. About 53,000 Kansans age 65 years and older are living with the disease — and that number is expected to rise over the next six years. About 150,0000 caregivers and family members in Kansas provide care and support for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

Last year, Kansas spent about $424 million of Medicaid money for Alzheimer’s care and treatment. These costs are expected to increase by 26% by 2025.

Gideon says the task force will meet twice a month from August to November.

“I see the main thing is really generating a needs assessment for the state of Kansas just to see where we are at and to see where we need to go,” Gideon says.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is taking the lead among several state agencies expected to provide support.

The governor directed the task force to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 13, 2020.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.