Organizations representing retired persons yesterday lauded proposed legislation dealing with the growing problem of Alzheimer's disease and voiced strong support for a measure that would provide financial help to people who care for Alzheimer's victims at home.
Del. Peter Callas (D-Washington), acting on behalf of the Governor's Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease and Releated Disorders, has filed a dozen pieces of legislation aimed at helping victims of the degenerative brain disorder and their families.
Representatives of the Maryland chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, the Maryland Retired Teachers Association, the Baltimore Retired Teachers Association and the state Office on Aging testified in favor of the task force's proposed legislation.
They said they were particularly impressed with a bill that would direct the state to provide financial assistance to care givers who provide home care for persons with Alzheimer's and related disorders.
"Care at home would be less costly to the state than care at a nursing home under medical assistance," said Dorothy Doyle, an advocate for older persons.
Callas said that about 20,000 Marylanders suffer from Alzheimer's and that the number is expected to grow to about 26,000 by 1990 as the elderly population increases.
One in three Maryland households will be affected by the disease, which causes people to lose their memories, speech abilities and physical coordination, he said.
Another bill discussed yesterday would require the state health department to use existing adult day care centers or to build additional day care centers to accommodate persons with Alzheimer's disease.
Daniel Rojcewicz of the University Fellowship Club's Adult Day Care Center in College Park suggested expanding the bill to include adults with other debilitating disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, severe arthritis and heart disease.