Weekly Feature

2015-04-17 / Editorial

State designates grant for dementia programs, services

A n appropriation in the recently passed 2015-16 New York State budget cements the state as a leader in the fight against the Alzheimer’s epidemic, creating a model for other states to follow.

The appropriation of $25 million per year, for at least two years, is the single largest onetime increase in funding for caregiver support services by any state in the nation and far surpasses previous state funding levels for such services.

Alzheimer’s Association WNY Chapter Executive Director Leilani Pelletier said in a release to The Bee that this is a historic day for the nearly 400,000 New Yorkers living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and the millions of New Yorkers who care for them.

“It is also a historic day for all New Yorkers, because we are all at risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” Pelletier said. Across Western New York, approximately 55,000 people live with dementia. The course of their illness is often long and bears a great emotional, social and fiscal cost.

“Our health care system was not designed to accommodate those with dementia, which is why it is my overwhelming pleasure to announce that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have directed $50 million over two years to be distributed to organizations that provide support services for people with dementia and their caregivers and families,” Pelletier added.

Each of the seven Alzheimer’s Association chapters across NYS, including the Western New York Chapter, will receive a portion of $4 million from that amount, designated for local programs and services such as support groups, education classes and a 24/7 helpline.

“We believe our share will be in the area of $500,000 each year for the next two years,” Pelletier said. “This is a hard-earned triumph and recognition of the pressing need for our cause. Every penny will be spent on local programs and services. For instance, we know many workplaces are impacted by the demands of caregiving. We can make sure your business has what it needs to support your employees.”

While the details on exactly how and when this will be happening are being worked on right now, Pelletier said they are on the cusp of a renaissance in dementia care.

“Employers, first responders, health care professionals, business owners, faith communities — all of these groups encounter people with dementia. And we are here to help them do the best job possible,” she said.

For more information, call the chapter at 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/WNY.

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