Sens. Collins, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Expand Training and Support Services for Families and Caregivers of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced legislation to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. More than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 that number is expected to grow to 14 million. Caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, who number nearly 16 million, report higher levels of stress and depression than those who provide care to individuals without dementia, which resulted in $10.2 billion in additional health costs for Alzheimer’s caregivers in 2015. This new legislation would authorize grants to public and non-profit organizations to expand training and support services that improve caregiver health and delay long-term care admissions by keeping patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in their homes longer. 

“There are many families who know all too well the compassion, commitment, and endurance that it takes to be a caregiver of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Senator Collins.  “Our caregivers devote enormous time and attention, and they frequently must make many personal and financial sacrifices to ensure that their loved ones have the high-quality care they need day in and day out.  Our bipartisan legislation would help expand the availability of resources and training services that support the nearly 16 million caregivers across our nation who care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”

“Today, nearly 16 million Americans are serving as a family caregiver to a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, providing nearly 18 billion hours of unpaid care annually. These loving caregivers are largely untrained and unsupported and face many challenges,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Our bipartisan bill will expand training and support services for caregivers to improve their health and well-being. It will also allow caregivers to better take care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, letting patients stay in the comfort of their homes longer.”

This bill is supported by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) have introduced similar legislation in the House.

"In this fight to defeat Alzheimer's, we must act to meet the needs of caregivers - the often forgotten people who put their own health and finances on the line to help loved ones battle a deadly disease," said UsAgainstAlzheimer's Co-founder and Chairman George Vradenburg. "We applaud Senator Klobuchar and her colleagues for introducing an important bill that will offer critical training and support services for caregivers to support them in this most important work."

“On behalf of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their more than 15 million caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association is proud to support the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act. This legislation would expand and improve access to training and support services for families and caregivers of those living with the disease,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Public Policy Officer. “Caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is both emotionally and financially straining. This important legislation would help to alleviate some of the financial burden, and importantly allow for family caregivers to receive the training and support necessary to provide quality care for their loved ones.”

“Until we find a cure, we have to make sure that there is access to quality care,” said Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  “By providing resources and grants to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of people living with dementia, The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act helps ensure better outcomes for both individuals with dementia and their family caregivers, and helps lower overall  care costs.  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America commends Senators Klobuchar and Collins for their introduction of this important legislation and looks forward to working with them and our other champions in Congress to get this bill passed into law.”

Earlier this year, Senators Collins and Klobuchar urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work to implement a program that fully evaluates how providing Alzheimer’s disease support services to caregivers would impact Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Senators Collins and Klobuchar also led a letter calling on President Obama to increase our nation’s funding for Alzheimer’s research as part of his fiscal year 2017 budget request. In addition, they introduced a Senate resolution declaring that the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's by 2025 is an "urgent national priority."