During a visit to a long-term living facility Tuesday, Gov. Tom Corbett recognized Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and thanked members of the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee for their efforts to create a state plan to address the disease.
Corbett toured Phoebe Ministries Allentown, a 400-bed long-term living facility, and Phoebe Center of Excellence in Dementia Care. He was joined by Dr. Kelly O’Shea Carney, executive director for the Phoebe Center for Excellence in Dementia Care, and Secretary of Aging Brian Duke, chair of the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee.
“As our senior population grows, so does the number of our citizens living with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Corbett. “Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month offers an opportunity to learn more about this disease and how it touches the lives of so many Pennsylvanians.”
Corbett proclaimed November as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. It has been recognized nationally each year since 1983 as a time to bring special attention to those living with the disease, as well as their families and caregivers.
“An estimated 280,000 Pennsylvanians are living with Alzheimer’s and an additional 120,000 of our citizens have related dementias,” said Corbett. “Those figures confront us with a crisis, but also an opportunity to rise above the problem and together look for ways to effectively respond to it.”
Pennsylvania’s aging population ranks as the fourth grayest state in the nation. The U.S. Census predicts that by 2015, one in four Pennsylvanians will be 60 years of age and older.
Corbett created the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee by Executive Order earlier this year. The committee will develop a comprehensive state plan with recommendations to address the disease in Pennsylvania, which will be presented to the governor in February 2014.
“It is imperative that Pennsylvania has a responsive Alzheimer’s State Plan that will provide guidance for families of loved ones with the disease, as well as healthcare providers and organizations,” Corbett said. “I thank the committee for its work thus far and look forward to the final plan early next year, culminating after months of discussion, deliberation and input from the public.”
“It is an honor and a pleasure to serve on the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee,” said Carney. “I thank Gov. Corbett for taking time to visit our facility and for the opportunity to help shape an Alzheimer’s state plan that will best suit Pennsylvania.”
Phoebe Ministries has received the Excellence in Care Status of Distinction from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the first facility in Pennsylvania to receive such an honor.
Also attending the event were representatives from the Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Commission, local Area Agencies on Aging, United Way of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Council on Aging and the AARP of Pennsylvania.
Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Lehigh), Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Rep. Hal English (R-Allegheny), Rep. Ryan Mackensie (R-Berks), Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) and Rep. Steve Samuelson (D-Lehigh) were also in attendance at the event.
Corbett urges all Pennsylvanians to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease during this month of awareness.For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee webpage.