Younger people getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s: Patients denied care based on age, new law requires equal care

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- People who get Alzheimer’s at a younger age could soon get the same benefits given exclusively to Americans 60 and over.

A revision of the Older Americans Act (OAA), which includes key elements of the Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act, was passed by the US House of Representatives.

“People now, who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s under the age of 60, now qualify for benefits they were once excluded from,” David Cook of the Alzheimer’s Association said.

The OAA gives support to seniors in their homes, with things like in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder-abuse prevention and even caregiver support.

“…home health, meals on wheels, nutritional programs that seniors count on… which gives a huge break to caregivers who are trying to navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s,” Cook said.

Local woman, Gigi Gabriel is one those caretakers. Her mom began showing signs of it at just age 54 and received a diagnosis at just 57.

“Slowy, things started changing that we noticed- she wouldn’t be able to write certain words, she was a seamstress and quilter, she couldn’t thread her needle,” Gabriel said.

Between her five children and career, caring for her mom was hard she said. Public funded programs wouldn’t help and it would cost $1,000 a month for someone to go to her house- something that she said was too expensive.

When Gabriel tried to take her mom into a dementia clinic, doctors told her no- because her mother was simply too young, even though her mother had been diagnosed.

If this latest bill will also just pass the US Senate, families like Gabriel’s will not be denied equal care, based on their younger age.

The senate is expected to make that decision next week and Alzheimer Association officials say it looks promising.

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