Experts on aging at Iowa State University are partnering with state officials and the Iowa Alzheimer’s Association to enhance an online guide that lists the resources available for patients with dementia.
“I think it’s been difficult, especially in rural areas, to understand what sort of access people have to long-term supports and services,” says Jennifer Margrett, director of the gerontology program at Iowa State University.
The website www.lifelonglinks.org is a “resource center” created by the Iowa Department of Aging and the Iowa State University research team will help evaluate and “shore up gaps” in the services available to dementia patients.
“Lifelonglinks.org is a website that’s intended to be a one-stop-shop so people who are facing age-related issues or challenges related to a disability can log on and find access to services in their area,” Margrett says.
According to Margrett, many home and community-based dementia services are underutilized because Iowans don’t know the programs exist or how to access them. Margrett says there are “care deserts” in Iowa, however, as sparsely populated rural areas lack some of these services and, as a result, persons with dementia are often placed in long-term care facilities rather than receiving the care they need at home.
Margrett and her team are working to develop “tools” for family discussions about long-term care plans.
“So hopefully we can start having more conversations ahead of time and get individuals and spouses and families talking about this before there’s a need or when there’s some early needs, so we can start planning so someone doesn’t get to that point where they feel like they don’t have any options,” Margrett says.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that by 2025, Iowa will see an 18 percent increase in the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. If you don’t have access to the internet, there’s also a phone number to call to get the same information available on www.lifelonglinks.org. That number is 866-468-7887.