COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — More than 240 Ohioans from all over the state gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday to advocate for legislation supporting Alzheimer’s care.
People like Katrina and Cherrie Henderson of Cleveland said they cared for their mom, who had Alzheimer’s for ten years.
“We wanted to be able to support other families who are going through these times, trying to make sure they get all the resources they need that the Alzheimer’s association can provide,” Katrina Henderson said.
“To the caregivers — don’t give up,” Cherrie Henderson said. “You can cry, but we have 24-hour support groups that can help bring you through any of the trials and difficulties you may have.”
The Alzheimer’s Association has worked with state lawmakers before to pass legislation, like House Bill 23 late last year. The bill mandates training for first responders in interacting with and caring for patients with dementia.
“That was monumental because it provided our police officers and our EMTs an opportunity to be trained in how to conduct and handle residents who have signs of Alzheimer’s,” said Camren Harris, public policy manager for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Harris said there are 220,000 Ohioans aged 65 and older who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s — and they need more support from the state.
“In just two years, by 2025, our data suggest that the number will increase to 250,000 Ohioans,” Harris said.
In the governor’s budget right now, the association is allotted $2.5 million. But Vince McGrail, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association central Ohio chapter, said the group expects the number of Alzheimer’s patients to increase by 14% over the next few years.
“This disease is growing because the population is aging,” McGrail said. “So, we are going to need more to help us reach more people.”
The association also wants to partner with the Ohio Department of Health to create a public awareness campaign, to help Ohioans know where they can turn if they or a loved one are going through an Alzheimer’s journey.