Arkansas State Alzheimer’s Plan Overview
In 2009, the Task Force on the Effect of Alzheimer’s Disease in Arkansas was established via House Bill 1014 to bring together caregivers, public health officials, patient advocates, and community leaders to tackle a range of issues impacting people living with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers and the state. After collecting public feedback to inform the plan's recommendations, in 2011 the Task Force published the Task Force on the Effect of Alzheimer’s Disease in Arkansas Final Report. In 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly approved a measure that created a permanent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council in the state. The Council is charged with updating the current Alzheimer’s and Dementia State Disease Plan and working with key stakeholders to ensure that the plan is implemented.
In 2022, the Council released the updated Alzheimer’s and Dementia Arkansas State Plan. The updated State Plan establishes recommendations for prioritizing the state’s response to Alzheimer’s. Among the recommendations are permanently reauthorizing the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Committee; conducting a statewide needs assessment to determine the capacity, availability, cost, and quality of existing dementia care options; and expanding in-home and facility-based respite services for family caregivers of individuals living with dementia.
Arkansas 2023 Policy Priorities
Establish a State Dementia Services Coordinator Position
58,000 Arkansans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia; a number expected to grow to 67,000 by 2025. With the number of people developing dementia steadily increasing, Arkansas needs a more dementia-capable state government infrastructure. In 2022, Arkansas updated the Alzheimer’s and Dementia State Plan and highlighted the importance of a strong coordinated effort from state agencies to address Alzheimer’s. To better serve the growing population of people living with dementia and their caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association is urging state policymakers to establish a State Dementia Services Coordinator position within the state government to evaluate and coordinate state-funded dementia services. The Dementia Services Coordinator will serve as a liaison between state agencies, the governor, the legislature and private stakeholders to ensure the state has a coordinated and effective approach toward addressing Alzheimer’s.
Empower First Responders with Dementia Training
Law enforcement and other first responders are critical to the health and safety of people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. They frequently interact with individuals who have dementia in a variety of settings and are among the first to observe instances of abuse and neglect, yet Arkansas does not currently require any type of dementia training for first responders. Without proper training on how to recognize the signs of dementia and how to effectively communicate with people with dementia, situations may escalate quickly with potentially dangerous consequences. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging state policymakers to establish dementia training requirements for all members of law enforcement and first responders.
Expand Funding for a Permanent Respite Program
Caregivers of people living with dementia take on an important but burdensome role of ensuring their loved one is safe and well-kept at all times. With their attention turned towards their loved one with dementia, caregivers are often left with more emotional, financial, and physical difficulties than caregivers of people without dementia. Respite care provides a much-needed break for family caregivers. In cases where finances are tight, Arkansas’ state-funded pilot respite care program steps in with limited but critical support. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging state policymakers to make this respite program a permanently funded program with an appropriation of $400,000.
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State Affairs Contact: David Cook
Email: [email protected]
people living with Alzheimer’s in Arkansas
Arkansans are providing unpaid care
Medicaid cost of caring for people living with Alzheimer’s (2020)
increase in Alzheimer’s deaths 2000-2019
in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia
increase of geriatricians in Arkansas needed to meet the demand in 2050
Resources to Drive Change in Arkansas
The following resources developed by AIM and the Alzheimer’s Association will help you learn more about the issues impacting people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, how Arkansas policymakers are addressing these gaps, and how you can help drive change.