In Arkansas, an estimated 58,000 Arkansans aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s in 2020. This number is expected to climb to 67,000 by 2025.
Nationwide, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia and that number is expected to grow to as many as 14 million by the year 2050.
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. It is an opportunity to hold a conversation about the brain and share the fact that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are major public health issues.
In 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly passed legislation creating the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Advisory Council. The council examines the needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, services available in the state for patients and their family caregivers, and the ability of healthcare providers and facilities to meet current and future needs.
Last year the council issued an update to the Alzheimer’s State Plan and made several recommendations to the General Assembly. The 94th General Assembly passed several pieces of legislation as a result of those recommendations.
Act 202 requires the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training to train new officers on the topic of interacting with persons who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
The General Assembly also passed Act 335 which sets minimum dementia training requirements for staff members who are employed by an assisted living facility and requires the Department of Human Services to adopt rules regarding the training requirements.
In addition, the legislature passed ACT 682 and Act 70. Act 682 creates the full-time position of Dementia Services Coordinator within the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Services of the Department of Human Services. ACT 70 requires at least four hours of dementia training for home caregivers.
Act 102 adds additional members from the assisted living and home-based care industry to the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Advisory Council. The council will continue researching ways to improve care in Arkansas and make future recommendations.