Dementia Awareness,Early Detection, and Healthcare Capacity bill moves from Legislature

JUNEAU – Legislation introduced by Speaker of the House Louise Stutes that creates a dementia awareness and early detection campaign and builds healthcare capacity to meet the growing number of cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia has passed from the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.


The population of Alaskans with Alzheimer’s Disease, a type of dementia that currently accounts for about 8,500 of Alaska’s 12,500 dementia cases, is expected to soar with an increase to 11,000 by 2025. As a consequence of the rapid growth of Alzheimer’s in Alaska, Medicaid costs of caring for Alaskans with Alzheimer’s is expected to climb by 44.6%, which is the highest increase in the United States, and is more than double the average projected increase of 20.2%.


A timely diagnosis is the first step in ensuring that anyone living with this disease can benefit from future treatments, care planning, and clinical trials. Yet, many Alaskans with dementia have yet to receive a formal diagnosis. Healthcare capacity for in and out-of-home care is also critical to assist individuals and families affected by this terrible disease. 


House Bill 308 directs the Department of Health to create a public awareness campaign to increase education among the public and health care providers on the signs of dementia, the value of early detection and diagnosis, risk reduction, and care planning. Additionally, and in concert with this program, a dedicated position created by the bill will be created focused on the rise in dementia diagnoses, assisting the Department of Health in identifying and implementing measures to enhance detection and treatment, as well as building healthcare capacity. 


“Dementia is a growing problem that affects more and more Alaskans every day,” said Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). “This bill creates a dedicated program within the department to address early detection and diagnosis, as well as build the healthcare infrastructure needed for the best quality of life for our loved ones. I am thrilled with the passage of this legislation.”


“Everyone in Alaska Is affected by dementia which robs its victims of their memories and their personalities, before ultimately taking their lives,” said Senator Mia Costello (R-Anchorage), who carried the bill in the Senate. “That’s why raising awareness of this devastating condition and improving quality of life is so important.”

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