SAUGUS — State Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) is supporting a bill that would expand the clinical research, treatment, and care of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The bill passed in the House on Jan. 31 on a vote of 153-0 and is currently being reviewed by the Ways and Means committee.
“I have friends that have relatives with dementia and it affects a lot of our seniors,” said Wong. “We want the people in the commonwealth to have a better quality of life, no matter their age.”
About five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and the number is expected to climb to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. One in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
“Alzheimer’s disease and dementia touch the lives of so many families, but most people are unaware of the full range of services available to patients and their caregivers,” said Wong. “This bill will not only make it easier for Massachusetts residents to access the proper care for their loved ones but will also enhance the state’s efforts to develop better treatment options for Alzheimer’s patients moving forward.”
The bill would require caseworkers and other medical professionals to be trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cognitive impairments. Hospitals would be given three years to implement an operational plan for recognizing and managing patients with the dementia. Physicians would be authorized to provide information to the patient’s family and caregivers regarding medical and non-medical services and treatment.
The intent is to accelerate the development of treatment for the disease, better coordinate the health care and treatment of patients, and protect minorities who are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s and less likely to receive care, said Wong.
“With the House and the Senate and the way we work together, I see no problem with the bill passing this year,” he said.