Earlier this year, I was honored to be appointed by Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger to chair the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One of five summer committees, these task forces will each focus on a different issue, holding public meetings and conducting research to learn more with the goal of producing legislation that works to improve that particular issue.

For the task force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, our mission is to spread dementia awareness and understanding while working to provide resources and decrease costs for those living with these conditions and keeping them independent longer. The task force is not only bipartisan, with five House members serving in addition to myself, but it also includes professionals from the healthcare field.

We’ve already held our first meeting, and we’ve outlined goals to produce up to three bills based off of the research we gather and to create a statewide Alzheimer’s and Dementia care plan. In our meeting this week, we all learned about the scope of these diseases and just how strongly Ohioans are affected by it. It was made clear that, first and foremost, confusion remains among the general public about the differences between Alzheimer’s and the symptoms that come with normal aging.

With that concern in mind, the task force is determined to raise awareness and do more for the nearly 210,000 Ohioans affected by these conditions. Because Alzheimer’s and Dementia are so debilitating, those suffering depend on family and caregivers every day, further impacting the lives of over 600,000 more Ohioans. We’ll continue to research and hear testimony from people who are impacted by these diseases daily to find ways to make access to care easier and help those diagnosed lead more independent lives for longer.

I’m looking forward to learning more as the chairwoman of the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which will be meeting twice a month through October. We’ll focus on awareness and the tools needed to educate the public, services that exist and how to expand care, training for caregivers and how to improve as a state, and data collection to help us learn how to properly treat these diseases. It’s a big undertaking, but I’m confident we can do more for this community and gain crucial knowledge in the process.

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