Board of Supervisors to take address Alzheimer’s disease

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider taking a regional approach to address Alzheimer’s disease, which is now the third leading cause of death in the area.

The supervisors will vote on a series of recommendations issued by a group of local elected officials, researchers, caregivers and other experts. Their suggestions include:

— launching a San Diego-based fundraising campaign to spur innovation and drug discovery;

— developing countywide standards for the screening, diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions;

— increasing awareness of and recruiting more volunteers for clinical trials;

— exploring the creation of a regional registry that would connect patients and physicians with researchers;

— enhancing training for those who work with Alzheimer’s patients;

— expanding services, respite care and support for families; and

— improving the Sheriff’s Department’s “Take Me Home” program to increase access of GPS devices to reduce wandering by patients.

If approved by the supervisors, the experts who came up with the recommendations would have three months to bring an implementation plan back to the board.

In a letter to their colleagues, Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts wrote that Alzheimer’s is “reaching epidemic proportions” in the county, with an estimated 60,000 residents living with the disease. The condition is taking a toll on families and healthcare providers and is only expected to get worse, they said.

According to Jacob and Roberts, around 80 percent of patients are cared for at home.

“Many caregivers are under so much stress that they struggle to manage their own physical and mental health,” the supervisors wrote.

They said Alzheimer’s costs the regional economy around $75 million annually.

Among those involved in developing the recommendations were San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Sheriff Bill Gore, philanthropist Darlene Shiley and Mary Ball, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Physicians and researchers with the Salk Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, UC San Diego and other organizations also took part.

Categories: KUSI