A unique project to support people with Alzheimer’s Disease across Southwest Florida is in jeopardy due to funding cuts. The Memory Mobile is a modified Recreational vehicle, which travels mainly to rural areas offering memory screenings to people who might otherwise be reluctant or unable to get help. Poor test results can be an early indication of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since 2001, more than 2600 people have been screened in the RV in Southwest Florida. But last year state officials cut funding nearly in half, says Gloria Smith CEO of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“That was pretty dramatic for us because we’re used to having the thing on the road every day but we really got I think it was a 45% cut. So we had to cut back on the number of stops we could make. But recently we were approached by the Department of Elder Affairs who had found us additional resources for the remainder of this contract period.”
That gets them through the end of June. Supporters are now trying to prevent more cuts to this and other Alzheimer’s programs throughout the state by lobbying lawmakers. The Memory Mobile is the only one of its kind in the country.
It parks at stores, churches and community centers inviting people aboard for memory screenings. Alzheimer’s affects approximately 1 in 10 people over age 65, including about 430-thousand in Florida. With the vehicle, the Gulf Coast chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association can serve a lot more people, including caregivers, says C-E-O Gloria Smith.
“Registering them for safe return, the wanderers program to dealing with challenging behaviors to modifying your home for safety. Because we know that the stress of care giving is pretty phenomenal and a lot of times we actually lose the caregiver before we lose the patient.”
The program started five years ago as a test project with a state grant. Lawmakers said if it proved successful more would be added around Florida. But instead, supporters are trying to prevent more cuts after funding was slashed nearly in half last year. The memory mobile has been on the road less than half the number of days compared to this time last year.
Thursday, 23 March 2006 00:00