As people across the country honor Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month this June, Virginia is working to transform the way Alzheimer’s is treated across the Commonwealth.
Don Talbott, 50, began his journey with Alzheimer’s nearly 10 years ago. “I forgot the name of tools I worked with every day, I forgot the way to work,” Talbott said. From being misdiagnosed to trying to cope with the disease while working full-time, Talbott and his wife Christy faced many challenges.
“There’s really no where you can go to, at your work, and tell them what’s going on without some type of negative consequence to you,” Don Talbott remembered.
But his story is just one of millions. Right now, an estimated 5.3 million people in America are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Commonwealth created the Virginia Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission, to make sure the state is prepared to support people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
“Over and over again we’ve heard stories, countless stories, about how adults are frustrated and overwhelmed because they’re not able to get a coordinated care,” said Lynne Seward, chair of the commission.
Currently, the commission is working to change that, by updating the Virginia State Dementia Plan, which strategically outlines how to address needs in the dementia community. Seward said one goal is to expand memory assessment centers throughout the Commonwealth. Seward described them as, “One-on-one center care for the caregiver and the adult so they can get help from assessment to end of life care.”
One of about six existing dementia assessment centers in Virginia is located at the University of Virginia. Dr. Carol Manning is the director of the Memory and Aging Care Clinic. “We have people from multiple disciplines neurology, neuropsychology, clinical psychology, social work, nursing, we have clinical trials,” she described.
Dr. Manning said with dementia on the rise, states need to be prepared and clinics like the one at UVA are a good idea and help everyone, including family members, through the journey.
The Virginia State Dementia plan will be submitted in the fall. You can still comment on what you’d like to see in it, by visiting the Virginia Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders Commission website.