Rep. Rice Introduces Bill To Increase Access To Alzheimer’s Services

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The bill will help those living with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice recently announced she will introduce the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Parity Act, which would amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to serve individuals who are under the age of 60 years old but living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative diseases. The announcement was made at the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) headquarters in Westbury, where Rep. Rice was joined by representatives from LIAF, the Alzheimer’s Association, Sid Jacobson JCC and NY-04 residents whose lives have been touched by younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

The Older Americans Act (OAA) was originally enacted in 1965 and supports a range of home- and community-based programs for the elderly, including meals-on-wheels and other nutrition services, in-home care, adult day-care, transportation services, legal aid, elder abuse prevention and vital assistance and support for family caregivers. OAA programs, which are only available to Americans age 60 and older, have proven to be particularly essential to people living with Alzheimer’s.

However, right now 5 percent of Americans with Alzheimer’s or approximately 250,000 people, are living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, for which symptoms usually begin in a person’s 50s, but can start as early as their 30s or 40s. As a result, this population and their caregivers do not have access to the essential OAA-funded programs and services that many older people living with the same disease have grown to rely on. The Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Parity Act would address this issue by changing the OAA to make its funding and programming available to Americans under the age of 60 who are living with Alzheimer’s or similar degenerative diseases.

“Every American who is living with Alzheimer’s disease deserves access to the best available care, regardless of their age,” said Rice. “Those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s often begin to show symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s, when they still have young children, new homes and growing careers. Virtually overnight, these individuals and their families face unimaginable financial strain. But right now, they don’t qualify for the vital and affordable services offered under the Older Americans Act that many people with the same exact disease utilize and rely on every day.”

“Too often people with younger-onset Alzheimer’s are excluded from services because of their age,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Public Policy Officer and AIM Executive Director. “This legislation would ensure that these individuals and their caregivers have access to the necessary services and support to help them throughout the continuum of this progressive and fatal disease. We are grateful to Congresswoman Rice for introducing this important legislation.”

Connie Wassermann LCSW, Associate Executive Director, Sid Jacobson JCC noted that Alzheimer’s and other dementias can affect any one at any age.

“They do not discriminate,” she said. “Because government funding cannot be used to serve those under 60 we’ve had to create our own program, the first of its kind, to help individuals and families living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. We are grateful to Kathleen Rice for listening to the plight of younger families and for responding. This bill would allow us offer more resources to those who need them.”

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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