Elder Law Community Follows Proposed New Alzheimer’s Legislation

Assistance may be on the way for those with younger onset Alzheimer's disease.
Assistance may be on the way for those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Elder law issues can also affect those under 65. About 200,000 individuals aged less than 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, according to Clay Jacobs, executive director of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The need to reach everyone affected will grow significantly in the coming years,” he said.

A bipartisan effort in Congress to make these elder care services available to younger people affected by Alzheimer’s disease recently resulted in the introduction of new proposed legislation known as the “Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act.”

Nutritional programs, supportive services, transportation, legal services, elder-abuse prevention and caregiver support have been available through the “Older Americans Act” since 1965. However, under the current law, only individuals over 60 are eligible for these kind of elder care services.

“These programs would make a huge difference in the lives of individuals living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, who don’t have support services available to them,” said a Congressional hearing witness Mary Dysart Hartt of Hampden, ME, a caregiver to her husband, Mike, who has young-onset Alzheimer’s.

Another bipartisan effort in Congress affecting elder law involves the proposed “Lifespan Respite Care Act” to help communities and states provide respite care for families. This legislation would earmark $20 million for fiscal year 2020, with funding increasing by $10 million annually to reach $60 million for fiscal year 2024. The program lets full-time caregivers take a temporary break from their responsibilities of caring for aging or disabled family members.

Elder law attorneys are following this legislation in hopes that the new laws, if passed, will provide additional ways to help those afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and to ease the burdens on full-time caregivers.

Reference: McKnight’s Senior Living (April 3, 2019) “Bill would aid those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease”

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