To the Editor:

As executive director for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Pennsylvania Chapter, I understand both personally and professionally the impact this disease has on families across Pennsylvania and our country.

Alzheimer’s and all dementia are often emotionally and financially devastating. As the number of people living with dementia rises, so too will their interactions with health care, social services and criminal justice services professionals. Unfortunately, those professionals currently receive little or no training in the unique needs of individuals living with dementia. The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop training materials to assist law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, medical personnel, victims services personnel, and others who encounter and support individuals living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Dementia-specific training materials for these professionals will improve the quality of their interactions with individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and will also help protect them from elder abuse. On behalf of our staff, volunteers and the millions of families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, we are thankful for state Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s leadership in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral Elder Justice Improvement Act.

As we look ahead, we are hopeful that additional legislators will sponsor this legislation, making it possible for us to protect people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias from elder abuse and for Pennsylvania to lead on this important issue.

Clayton Jacobs, executive director,

Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pa. Chapter

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