Oklahoma legislative task force addresses Alzheimer’s

SUSAN SIMPSON Modified: September 1, 2009 at 4:33 am •  Published: September 1, 2009
The number of Oklahomans living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 74,000 by next year, a 20 percent increase over a decade.

But progress in care and treatment of the disease is not keeping pace, according to a report released Monday by a governor-appointed task force that studied the impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Oklahoma.

"This is the public health threat of the 21st century,” said Mark Fried, a task force member and executive vice president of the Oklahoma and Arkansas chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Fried said relatives and other caregivers provide more than $1 billion in unpaid care to loved ones with the disease in Oklahoma. Many caregivers say they’ve lost work to care for their loved ones.

The task force made recommendations, including:

• Creation of a statewide information and referral system for caregivers to learn about community services, adult day care and nursing home care for patients.

• Requirement that medical school students learn more about diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

• Creation of a student loan forgiveness program for medical school students specializing in geriatrics and practicing in Oklahoma.

• Increased daily reimbursement rate for adult day care services, and increased number of locations in the state.


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