The City Creates an ‘Alzheimer’s Initiative’

The program aims to raise awareness about the disease.

When Seth Rogan tweeted the above image in February, it sparked shock around the country. Those are your senators, America! Those are the people that we elected into office. What are they doing with their time? Why aren’t they attending committee meetings? It’s a shocking display of apathy, and I have to wonder what the heck our elected officials were doing instead of actually working that day. If any of us missed a work meeting we’d probably be fired. Just something to think about come November.

By 2030, one out of every five residents of Boston will be over the age of 60, said Mayor Marty Walsh in the “Aging in Boston” report which was released in April. Shocked? By 2050, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is set to triple. Those are some scary stats, and unlike the senators not pictured above, the City of Boston has decided to do something about it.

City officials announced the Boston’s Alzheimer’s Initiative Friday, which will include “dementia capable” training for city employees and volunteers. Boston will also be joining the national Alzheimer’s Association Workplace Alliance. This new initiative, according to city officials, aims to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and provide support to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

“This is personal for me. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and I saw firsthand the toll it takes on a family, and the love and patience that is required to care for someone with the disease,” Mayor Walsh said. “Together, we can make Boston a supportive place for people affected by Alzheimer’s, and give family members the knowledge, understanding, and tools to cope with what can be a difficult situation.”

The city’s efforts to commit to this Alzheimer’s Project will include joining the Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance, formerly the Alzheimer’s Early Detection Alliance, and will make sure that its 17,000 employees have support and information on the disease, as well as educating employees about “the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, the importance of early detection, and the resources available to help them.”

During the next two years, the City of Boston will train staff at the Boston Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, the Boston Fire Department, Boston Housing Authority, and the Elderly Commission to be “dementia capable.” Boston Medical Center, Northeastern University, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District are also part of the Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance.

“Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have taken a huge step in addressing a health care issue that increasingly impacts us all,” said James Wessler, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, MA/ NH Chapter. “Since Boston is an international hub for Alzheimer’s research and programs, it’s only fitting that Boston become the first major American city to join the Workplace Alliance. Education and support can make a significant difference in the quality of life for those living with the disease, and their families.”