Alaska has the fastest growing senior population in the nation, which means an increasing number of Alaskans are living with dementia. Our state needs to be prepared to address the needs of aging Alaskans, and the passage of House Bill 308 was a big step in the right direction.
HB 308 and its companion, Senate Bill 216, were introduced to create a statewide dementia awareness and healthcare capacity campaign and to direct the Department of Health to educate clinicians, health care professionals, and the public on the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in order to increase our rate of diagnosis. The legislation also creates a dedicated position at the department to administer the program.
The passage of this important legislation makes Alaska eligible to apply for federal BOLD Act money, which stands for “Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act.” Overall, the federal government will invest $100 million through this program to support the prevention, treatment, and care of dementia. Alaska can apply for some of that federal money, which will pay for the dementia awareness and healthcare capacity campaign created under HB 308. It is critical for our state to invest in Alaskans who are at risk, as well as those already living with dementia.
With this new statewide campaign, we will now be able to apply for grants to help educate and expand our health care workforce, so we are better prepared to care for our increasing senior population.
This legislation is a proactive step we have taken to address the growing needs of Alaskans and their families as they navigate the challenges of dementia. It is a difficult and heartbreaking disease that all too many have seen their loved ones go through. It is important that we continue to invest in our seniors and provide the support and resources they need, so we can make our state a better place to live for Alaskans of all ages.
To find helpful resources and support, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska website at alzalaska.org.