EDITOR, Daily News:

There are more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s, including 8,500 here in Alaska. More than for individuals living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, care planning is essential to learning about medical and non-medical treatments, clinical trials, and support services available in their community. Accessing these services results in a higher quality of life.

As someone who was a caregiver for 13 years for my mother in another state who had Alzheimer’s, I understand the enormous burden dementia has on families and the economy. Flying from Alaska to the Lower 48 several times a year, taking time off work, losing pay to give respite care.

Thankfully, as of January 2017, Medicare covers critical care planning services. However, not enough patients and providers are aware of this resource. That is why I would like to thank Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Don Young for including the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer's Act (S. 880/H.R. 1873) in a new omnibus bill supporting Americans with dementia.

The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer's Act would help educate clinicians on Alzheimer's and dementia care planning services through Medicare.

The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will give providers the knowledge and tools to better help their patients and families living with dementia.

Please join me in asking Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Sullivan, and Rep. Young to co-sponsor and vote in support of the new dementia omnibus bill, which includes the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. To learn more about this disease and how you can join the fight to end Alzheimer's, join the Alaska Dementia Advocates group on Facebook.

Together we can be part of the first survivor.

CINDY HARRIS

Alzheimer’s Association

Alaska Ambassador