San Diego County Leaders To Launch Effort To Battle Alzheimer's
In San Diego County, an estimated 60,000 people suffer from Alzheimer's disease. It's a debilitating illness that affects more than just the patient — family members must watch their loved ones deteriorate and many provide full-time care to their ailing relatives.
The numbers are expected to grow worse. By 2030, Alzheimer's rates will double in the county, researchers say.
To battle the disease, which is the third-leading cause of death in the county, officials are proposing a regional strategy to address Azlheimer's treatment, research and awareness in San Diego. The county Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday to officially launch the plan called the Alzheimer's Project.
It's a multi-layered strategy that includes expanding resources for patients and caregivers, establishing screening and diagnostic standards, and funding the search for a cure.
Alzheimer's Project Recommendations
- Launch a San Diego-based fundraising campaign to spur innovation and drug discovery.
- Develop countywide standards for the screening, diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's and other dementia conditions.
- Increase awareness of and recruit more volunteers for clinical trials.
- Explore the creation of a regional registry that would connect patients and physicians with researchers.
- Enhance training for those who work with Alzheimer's patients.
- Expand services, respite care and support for families.
- Improve the Sheriff's Department's "Take Me Home'' program to increase access to GPS devices to reduce wandering by patients.
Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob proposed the effort during her State of the County speech in January.
"From what I understand, it's unprecedented to develop a regional roadmap to address this disease," Jacob said in a phone interview Monday.
She said the federal government is spending very little on research, so the county is picking up slack by raising its own funds.
“Right now, today, there could be a cure for Alzheimer’s sitting on a shelf, but the problem is, as the researchers explained it, it's getting that idea into drug discovery, and that’s what this local fund will be used for,” Jacob said.
Additionally, the plan includes suggestions on how to help locate Alzheimer's patients who go missing after wandering from their homes or assisted-living facilities.
"That wandering is one of the problems with those with Alzheimer's or related dementia," Jacob said.
Last week, authorities found the body of 75-year-old Sally Estabrook more than two months after she wandered from an Alzheimer's facility in Julian.
San Diego researchers, caregivers and advocates worked for months alongside Jacob and other local government officials, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, to develop the strategy that includes dozens of suggestions. The Board of Supervisors will hear a report outlining these ideas before voting Tuesday on the recommendations.
If they're approved, staff will have 90 days to come up with a plan to carry out the recommendations.