New Alzheimer's Council Plans 8 Public Hearings to Hear From Caregivers, Researchers and the Public

White Plains, Rochester, Selden, Queensbury, Binghamton, Manhattan, Cheektowaga and Syracuse

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 19, 2008) -- Eight public forums will be held around the state this spring so that the new Coordinating Council for Services Related to Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias can hear from people affected by Alzheimer's disease, care providers, researchers and the public to provide information and guidance.

The Council is charged with the creation of a comprehensive statewide plan to identify, treat and improve service delivery for dementia patients, their families and caregivers.

"Alzheimer's disease is a growing problem among our elderly residents and requires thoughtful attention," state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said. "Convening this council of experts and caregivers will help us develop a comprehensive approach to help patients, their families and their caregivers provide appropriate treatment.

"We have used public forums during the past year to gather input on many important health issues, including coordinating care for disabled people with drug or alcohol addictions, Medicaid reimbursement, and medical malpractice insurance," Dr. Daines added. "These forums have proven to be an excellent way to gather input from researchers, health care providers and family caregivers. This will strengthen our overall state plan."

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), Chairman of the Assembly Aging Committee, said, "It is projected that by 2010, there will be 320,000 New Yorkers diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The most frightening aspect of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is how little we actually know about them. That is why the findings of the Alzheimer's Council will be extremely important in shaping the direction of health care policy for seniors in our state going forward, and I look forward to reviewing their findings."

Senator Martin Golden, Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, said, "This Alzheimer's Coordination Council represents a historic first step for the Empire State. New York will finally have cohesive plan for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease which will involve all levels of government and care. I look forward to working with all parties as we implement the programs and policies to provide a good quality of life to our residents combating Alzheimer's." 

The community forums will be held between April-June 2008, each beginning at 3 p.m. and concluding at 7 p.m. All forums are open to the public. Dates, locations and links to directions follow:

The Council is chaired jointly by Commissioner Daines and Michael J. Burgess, Director of the Office for the Aging. Its members are experts in the care of people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, including medical providers, health care administrators, and representatives from community-based organizations, family caregivers and state agency representatives working collectively to outline issues and propose recommendations related to the identification and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In addition, the plan will identify strategies to improve service delivery for individuals with dementia, their families and caregivers.

Commissioner Daines said, "As the number of New Yorkers with dementia grows, so do our concerns for appropriate care and treatment. The Department of Health is eager to begin discussions on a statewide plan to serve New Yorkers who develop dementias. Their family caregivers and other family members also need to be heard. The public forums will give New Yorkers a chance to contribute ideas to incorporate into the state plan."

Director Burgess said: "The Council will provide a continuing forum to discuss concerns about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, as well as the services for people with these conditions and their caregivers."

The Council will provide a continuing forum to discuss concerns about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, as well as the services for people with these conditions and their caregivers. The Council's report to Governor David A. Paterson is due in June 2009.

Alzheimer's disease primarily affects individuals over age 65. One in eight people over 65 and nearly half of all individuals who reach the age of 85 develop the disease. Given the growth in the elderly population, especially the proportion of the population over 80 years of age, it is anticipated that the as many as 16 million people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease nationally by 2050. In New York, it is estimated that more than 330,000 residents currently have Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. By 2050, this number could reach as high as 1.2 million.

In addition to the two chairmen, the members of the Council, appointed by Governor Paterson and legislative leaders, are:

  • Louis R. Belzie, MD: Director of Behavioral Services, Long Term Care at Schulman & Schachne Institute, Brookdale University, Brooklyn.
  • Elizabeth Smith-Boivin: Director of the Anne B. Goldberg Alzheimer's Resource Center, Neurosciences Advanced Imaging and Research Center, Albany Medical Center.
  • David J. Cascio: Administrator, Quaker's Landing Memory Community: President, Board of Directors, Alzheimer's Association, Western New York Chapter.
  • Barbara C. Donno: Board of Directors, Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation.
  • William J. Higgins, MD: Practicing Physician: Board of Directors, Alzheimer's Association, Hudson Valley Region.
  • Catherine J. James: Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer's Association, Central New York Chapter.
  • Jed A. Levine: Executive Vice President and Director of Programs and Services, Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter.
  • Mary Ann Malack-Ragona: Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer's Association, Long Island Chapter.
  • Paula J. Rice: Former Caregiver, New York City.
  • Mollie A. Richards: Director of Rehabilitation Programs, Jewish Senior Life, Rochester.

For more information on the eight community forums, please contact the state Department of Health at forums2008@health.state.ny.us. Registration information is at www.nyhealth.gov. For more information on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/conditions/dementia/.