Monday, February 23, 2015

Memory Day Common Sense Proposals

Rep. Dean Dohrman, Linda Fisher, Ginger Dollinger
On a cold February morning, Ginger and I joined other Missouri advocates for Memory Day at the state Capitol. With the temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero, we made the trek from the parking garage to the Capitol building basement. That was a great place to enter the building since the cafeteria was close by and a hot cup of coffee helped take off the chill.

I found my cousin, Karen, and her lobbying partner at what they called their “office.” This was a perfect area to see everyone that entered the building. Ginger and I joined them and while we enjoyed our coffee, we received our first lucky break of the day. My cousin had a place for us to leave our coats. How great to not have to lug them around.

“Usually when we get here,” I told her, “we have this big discussion as to whether it’s cold enough that we have to wear our coats. That wasn’t an option this morning.”

Soon, the Alzheimer’s group passed by, and we discovered that we were now meeting in Hearing
Ginger Dollinger
Room #2, instead of #3. We would meet to receive our appointment schedules, leave behind packets, instructions, and don our purple sashes. Our Springfield group was unable to come because of ice, so our group was smaller than usual.

The Memory Day ceremony had been moved to 2:00 p.m., so for the first time, we had lunch first. Better yet, we weren’t rushed!

Another first: Ginger and I had different representatives. Since I’d moved a few miles down the road, I was in a new district.
We had two important issues to discuss with our legislators.

Alzheimer’s Grants. We have been fortunate to receive Alzheimer’s service grants for many years. This year we asked for $450,000 to be budgeted for grants that provide respite care for Missourians with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. This grant has the potential to save the state millions each year. How is that possible? Respite often helps caregivers keep loved ones at home longer. Eight hundred families receive respite from this grant. Nursing home care costs Medicaid (paid by the state) an average of $147 per day. Sixty percent of nursing home residents are on Medicaid. If respite funds delay nursing home placement for Medicaid eligible persons by one month (30 days) the state would save $2,116,800. The savings alone makes sense! I delayed nursing home placement by several months with in-home care partially paid with respite funds. It is impossible to place a value on how much that time meant to us.

Senior Savings Protection Act (SB 244/HB 636). We all know how on our toes we have to be to avoid being scammed. People with dementia are even more vulnerable to being exploited. This bill would allow financial industry professionals to reach out to state agencies and family members if they suspect senior clients are being exploited and to refuse disbursements up to ten days. Folks, this is so necessary! Jim had me to run interference for him when telemarketers and others tried to take advantage of him. Not everyone has a person who can keep track of all the unscrupulous shysters out there that would love nothing better than to tap someone’s bank account.

Linda, Ginger, and Rep. Dave Muntzel
Our first scheduled visit was to see Ginger’s representative, Rep. Dave Muntzel, who until August had been mine. After our visit with him, we went directly to visit Rep. Dean Dohrman, my representative. Both representatives seemed to understand the value of both respite funds and the senior protection bill.

After these visits, we split up. Ginger went to the ceremony, and I accompanied another advocate on his legislative visit. As soon as our meeting ended, we walked to the second floor rotunda area where Lt. Governor Peter Kinder was talking about Alzheimer’s impact on families and government. Advocates held flowers representing their connection to the disease. The program ended with a caregiver’s personal story.

I dropped off a packet for our senator and retrieved our coats. On the drive back to Sedalia, Ginger and I talked about the day, our impressions, our hopes and fears. It had been a tiring day, but productive.

Being an advocate means being a voice. Each of us can be a voice to help advance these important issues in Missouri. Face-to-face meetings make the most difference, but you can lend your support with a letter, phone call, or email. It just takes a moment, but approval of the $450,000 Alzheimer’s Grant could be a lifeline for someone you love and save the state millions at the same time. The Senior Savings Protection Act could help your grandparents or elderly parents keep their hard-earned savings. These two issues are a win-win for Missouri residents and taxpayers.

Copyright © February 2015 by L.S. Fisher
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