by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – Issues impacting seniors citizens impact all of Missouri. That’s the word from advocated who appeared on this week’s “Missouri Viewpoints”.
At the Capitol, Missouri lawmakers hear from countless interest groups throughout the year. Some are high profile and some don’t get many headlines.
Don’t mistake a lack of media coverage for political weakness, though.
Missouri Silver Haired Legislature President Bruce Yampolsky says the political muscle isn’t hard to understand: it’s in the numbers. Numbers he says show about one million Missourians who are over sixty years old.
Yampolsky says an estimated 77% of senior citizens vote in every election. That percentage is higher than any other age group. A million seniors is about a fifth of Missouri’s total population.
While the Senior Haired Legislature weighs in on a variety of issues, this year their main priorities are basic but still not a given when it comes to funding.
At a time when state revenues are tight, every dollar is being lobbied for by someone. Yampolsky and the Silver Haired Legislature are working to fund programs for senior citizens.
“It’s meals” says Yampolsky “and transportation. People need transportation to get to their doctors, to get to their shopping, to get to their personal needs.”
Another aspect of health that impact seniors is Alzheimer’s Disease.
While the disease does not exclusively target older people, it’s victims are generally senior citizens.
Linda Newkirk from the Alzheimer’s Association wants family and friends of older Missourians to watch for warning signs. This includes frequent forgetfulness of current or recent events and conversations.
While everyone is forgetful at times, the key is to notice a pattern of memory lapses.
Newkirk says other signs of Alzheimer’s impacting someone can be seen in changes to how someone manages their basic life tasks.
“…inability to do things they’ve always done like keep the checkbook. Bills are going unpaid. Sometimes family members don’t know that until insurance has lapsed or a house payment has been missed or something like that.”
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this point, Newkirk believes researchers are close to developing medications that can help control it. Still, an early diagnosis helps family, friends and doctors develop a plan to care for the victim with as much dignity and independence as possible.
When signs of Alzheimer’s are noticed, Newkirk encourages family to get their relative to a doctor quickly. Many things can impact memory, so it’s important to make sure the problems are identified because it could be something within control, like medications or stress.
Either way, getting as much information as early as possible is the key to allowing a victim of Alzheimer’s the best life possible.
On the web:
Missouri Silver Haired Legislature: www.Health.MO.gov/seniors/SilverHaired
Alzheimer’s Association: www.ALZ.org