New Legislation Protects a Vulnerable Group
Governor Patrick Signs Bill to Set Alzheimer Care Regulations for Nursing Homes
WATERTOWN, Mass., July 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advocates for Alzheimer's patients who worked to achieve passage of a bill that calls for regulation of dementia care in nursing homes were rewarded for their efforts when the bill (H 3947) was signed into law by Governor Patrick this week.
"This bill impacts families all across Massachusetts," said James Wessler , president/CEO of the Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. "It also closes a loophole in our care system that allowed nursing homes to advertise dementia care without any special training for staff or accommodations for the residents."
According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 120,000 have Alzheimer's in Massachusetts. That number is expected to grow dramatically as baby boomers age. While age is not the only risk factor for the disease, it is the most significant one. Nearly 50% of those aged 85 and older will develop Alzheimer's. Of those aged 65, nearly 1 in 8 will develop the fatal disease.
"We applaud the legislature and Governor Patrick for taking this move to insure safety for this most vulnerable population," Wessler said. "It will also increase the peace of mind to an estimated 350,000 family members of those affected by the disease."
Workers who treat dementia patients will receive specialized training, and nursing home and dementia special care units will have to meet minimum care standards. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alice Wolf and Sen. Marc Pacheco , will establish regulations to specify minimum safety and quality standards for dementia care units in long-term facilities, including physical design of the units that is therapeutic and mitigates dangerous wandering activity.
"This legislation will improve the quality of life for patients, and ease the burden on families, too," Patrick said in a statement.
More than 5.4 million in the U.S. have Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
SOURCE Alzheimer's Association
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