Local woman joins more than 150 Illinois residents in Capitol

Oak Park woman lobbies with other Chicagoland residents on behalf of the Alzheimer's Association

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More than 150 Illinois citizens will come together to make their voices heard in Springfield on Wednesday, April 26. One of those advocates is Deanne Alexander of Oak Park.

Deanne recently lost her mother after a three year long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis that led her to the Alzheimer’s Association. “I wanted to be a part of an organization that would help my family get through the devastation of her diagnosis.” Deanne said. “It just made me stronger, realizing that so many others were dealing with the same problems. It gave me a purpose and direction towards working to help find a cure. I believe through numbers, comes power.”

It’s with that power she will join advocates from across the state to lobby for SB 1624 and HB 3392. Legislation which, if passed, would protect the growing number of long-term care residents currently being abandoned in hospital psychiatric units and provide the necessary penalties to enforce legally-required staffing levels, saving lives and greatly enhancing quality of life for long-term care residents.

“It is not only criminally inhumane to make the population in long-term care facilities live with understaffed caregiving, but the idea that a patient that might be unstable can be admitted into the hospital’s psych ward, and then be illegally discharged from their facility is wrong. This leaves them stranded in the hospital, basically homeless.” Deanne said. “Over one third of Illinois nursing homes voluntarily reported to the state of Illinois that they we understaffed.”

Deanne looks forward to bringing her concerns to her State Senator Don Harmon, who has yet to sign onto the bill as a co-sponsor. “People with dementia cannot advocate for themselves, so we are their voices. We take this very seriously and when a group of purple-sashed advocates walk into their office, with our list of “asks” and fact sheets, they do listen.”

Deanne will join fellow advocates from across the state in the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Illinois Action Summit. This will be her fourth year making the trip to Springfield, a trip she feels is critical, “They also listen to our personal stories about how the disease has affected our families. I know our strong determination has an impact on their support.”

The 2017 Illinois Action Summit, hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association- Greater Illinois Chapter, will give Advocates a chance to meet with their elected lawmakers to help draw critical attention to the sixth deadliest disease in America. More than 220,000 Illinois residents are living with the disease.

Advocates, those diagnosed with the disease, caregivers and champions of the cause, will be at the Capitol speaking with lawmakers from 12:00pm-2:30pm on April 26. There are many opportunities for video and interview requests before, during, and after the event.

Contact Kaylin Risvold 312-315-5496 or krisvold@alz.org with any requests or questions.

About the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter:

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter serves 68 counties in Illinois. Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes.

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