A Hand in the Plan: Taking the Long View on Alzheimer's
A grant from Bader Philanthropies is helping Wisconsin prepare for an aging population and an increase in residents with Alzheimer’s disease.
As Baby Boomers grow older, the projected increase in the number of Wisconsinites living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to swell. Although this generation is expected to live longer than previous generations, there has been only gradual change in the public policy that shapes how services are planned, coordinated and funded. Wisconsin has lacked a comprehensive plan to inform and guide key decisionmakers on the many aspects of the disease.
To help mobilize and coordinate how the disease is approached by various entities and individuals, Bader Philanthropies is working with Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services to craft a statewide response. A two-year, $145,000 grant helped launch a two-phase planning process.
First, the initiative created “A Hand in the Plan,” a yearlong, statewide speaker series held in collaboration with local partners from Beloit to Superior. Guest speakers shared their expertise on the many facets of Alzheimer’s, from the impact on law enforcement to end-of-life planning to the needs of families of color. The speakers’ thoughts sparked discussion sessions, which also shaped online questionnaires available to the public.
With that feedback in hand, the Committee for a Response to Alzheimer’s moved into the second phase of the initiative: crafting a plan that will include recommendations for policymakers at all levels.
In the first half of 2013, the Committee will present a set of facts and recommendations to guide decisionmaking priorities related to the anticipated growth in Alzheimer’s among Wisconsinites. Three key issues will likely play a big role in the final recommendations:
- Reducing the stigma that prevents individuals from seeking and obtaining an early diagnosis.
- Ensuring individuals have access to a variety of services in the community.
- Supporting Individuals who live alone in the community.
“The growth of Alzheimer’s will affect Wisconsin’s families and their communities in many ways, so we need to look ahead and be prepared,” said Kristen Felten, who is coordinating the effort for the Department. “While it may be a major challenge for our current system and processes, this is an opportunity to fundamentally redefine what it means to address our older adults’ needs.”