Coordinating best practices and services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families is the goal of legislation just approved by the 2014 Legislature.

Under Senate Bill 6124, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, a working group representing all stakeholders in the services and delivery system for Alzheimer’s patients and their families will develop the coordinated state plan. The bill passed both the House and Senate and now needs only to be signed into law by the governor.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death in Washington, and about 150,000 Washingtonians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias,” Keiser said. “This is a public health epidemic not just for individuals and their families but for businesses, health care programs and supports systems in Washington.”

Her legislation directs the state Department of Social and Health Services to convene a group that will focus on the needs of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, services available to meet those needs, and the capacity of the state and providers to meet those needs.

The working group will also explore ways to protect vulnerable adults from predatory guardians who take advantage of the elderly.

“Alzheimer’s and other dementias have become so prevalent that few of us have not been touched by them in some way or another,” Keiser said. “This represents a growing problem for families and businesses and our state, and requires sustained focus and attention.”