A bill has been introduced, actually reintroduced, to the Untied States Congress: the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. The idea is that after a diagnosis of the Alzheimer’s disease, a plan for long-term care will be established with the oversight of a physician or other medical personnel so that individuals with the disease and their caregivers can learn about medical and non-medical treatments. Did you know that only 45% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are told that they have this disease? Whether it is because of doctor fear of this fatal disease with no cure and no reversal or because doctors just do not know or understand it, this is unconscionable. People have a right to know so that they can then make the best choices for life and for care.
Research by the Alzheimer’s Association states that having this information about care options after a diagnosis improves the quality of medical care that an individual receives and results in higher quality of life. Choices do make a difference.
The first step in improving care is having the diagnosis documented in medical records. This means that all physicians will be aware of the diagnosis and the current treatment and medications available, enabling better management of care. Medicare providers will know of planned services as will the individual and caregiver. This will take some of the mystery out of medical practice as well as eliminating some of the barriers individuals face in accessing appropriate medical care.
The Health Outcomes Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act builds upon existing Medicare coverage and gives doctors time to talk with patients and their caregivers about an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It takes steps to implement the national plan for Alzheimer’s disease for individuals and their families after diagnosis and it educates health care providers. This education in turn enhances assistance for people with this disease as preparation is made for long-term care to meet the needs of individuals and families.
While the cost of the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act has not been determined its potential impact in helping those with the disease and their families is great. The act will allow for better care coordination and management of other chronic conditions. This could lead to reduced medical costs. Having medical documentation and a care plan will greatly benefit those with the disease and their caregivers.