SPRINGFIELD, Missouri — Here in Missouri, more than 120 advocates braved the harsh winter weather to head to the city of Jefferson for the annual Alzheimer’s Association Memorial Day.
Advocates met with state legislators to seek support for the sick and their caregivers.
Marcia Rauwerdink, one of the association’s supporters, said she has several priorities she wants to discuss with lawmakers.
One of the Advocate’s priorities is the implementation of the Missouri Alzheimer’s Plan.
A similar plan was implemented over a decade ago to increase research and improve care for sick people.
Now, proponents say it’s time for an update.
“We basically create a plan and lay out who has a stake in this and what they really need,” says Rauwerdink. “Caregivers working with caregiver families, working with those who are suffering from illness, do several things. Relieving that suffering relieves the stress of experiencing it. Critically, we try to save some of the costs, especially for Medicare, because this horrible disease means it’s taking a toll on the state.”
Rauwerdink said Governor Person has created a task force to advance the update. Task force members have developed several recommendations that proponents are using to advance the proposed plan.
Another priority is the establishment of a Dementia Services Coordinator. They are responsible for ensuring that the Alzheimer’s Missouri Plan remains on track and progressive efforts are being made.
Another priority that Rauwerdink said he is very passionate about is to significantly increase funding for respite care grants.
Rauwerdink said the reason funding is so important is that it helps not only those who suffer from the disease, but also their caregivers and their mental health.
“It can be used to help caregivers take better care of themselves,” says Rauwerdink. “They can’t run away to the doctor or run away to the dentist because they can’t leave their loved ones alone. It’s a 24/7 job.”
She said Missouri has been stuck with $425,000 in respite care grants for 10 years due to budget cuts.
She says there are an estimated 120,000 people living with the disease, and anyone who tries to make money will receive $3 per person.
Rauwerdink told me that when she first started becoming an advocate, she had a lot of money.
She lost her mother to Alzheimer’s in 2005 and knows how hard it can be for a person.