Delegate Ben Kramer of Montgomery County moderated an educational session at MACo’s Summer Conference on the increase of Alzheimer’s and Autism in our communities and one innovative government response to the rise in endangered missing persons. The session was sponsored by the Maryland Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Delegate Kramer sits on the House Economic Matters Committee and recently served on the Joint Committee on Access to Mental Health Services.
Sarah Lenz Lock, Senior Vice President for Policy, AARP Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs gave a national perspective on the increase of persons with cognitive disabilities as our communities age. She described that by 2030 the US will have twice as many people over the age of 65 as we have today, and she shared the many programs and tools for Maryland residents confronting Alzheimer’s, which is estimated to be 97,000 people. These include the Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, The Maryland Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission, and the AARP’s Age-Friendly Network and ‘Staying Sharp’ Memberships.
Laurie Reyes, Police Officer, Montgomery County Department of Police and Shelly McLaughlin, Director of Communications, Pathfinders for Autism described new comprehensive approaches to the growing number of cases of Missing Persons with Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Dementia. As described by Officer Reyes and Shelly, Montgomery County Police now provide a layered approach to critical missing persons with such conditions as Autism, Alzheimer’s and Down Syndrome. The department works to prevent missing person tragedies through education of officers and caregivers and through community outreach. Officer Reyes welcome county officials from other jurisdictions to contact her; she would be happy to speak with any county interested in implementing similar system.