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Alzheimer's Advocates Push New York Lawmakers For More Funds, Promotion Of Early Diagnosis

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Advocates from the Finger Lakes-Rochester region joined others from around the state in Albany to ask state lawmakers to increase funding for services helping people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Jim Gulley of Penfield was one of the people on the trip. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2015 when he was 66. He thinks the state can do more to promote early diagnosis.

"The sooner that people step up and acknowledge something is different,” he said, “something is probably wrong, they need to get to a doctor. The earlier people who suspect they have memory problems or related symptoms, the sooner they'll be able to get some help."

A report released Tuesday morning by the Alzheimer's Association said despite a strong belief among senior citizens that early detection is beneficial, only one in seven seniors get regular assessments for memory or thinking issues during routine health checkups.

Advocates are also urging the state legislature to provide funding to bring dementia-related services to rural communities.  "Once you get outside the cities it becomes difficult for people to get to services,” Gulley said. “We need to bring the services closer to them."

The Alzheimer's Association says, based on conservative estimates, at least 30,000 Rochester-Finger Lakes area residents are living with some form of dementia.

Alzheimer's is the most expensive disease in the U.S. with out-of-pocket spending by families and caretakers – estimated at $63 billion - outpacing Medicaid’s annual costs of $49 billion.