NAPLES, Fla - A Naples man was hand picked to serve on a statewide task force to study the growing problem of Alzheimer's in Florida.
State lawmakers created the Purple Ribbon Task Force in an effort to be more proactive in the fight against Alzheimer's. There are currently 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's and that number is expected to triple by the year 2050.
Now, the state legislature is turning to Ted Wolfendale and an 18 member task force to figure out what Florida needs to do to combat the growing problem of Alzheimer's. "It's a combination of more and more people becoming inflicted with this horrible disease as well as how we're going to address it with the limited funds we have available to us."
Wolfendale is the administrator of Dial-a-Nurse in Naples and president of NEVCO, a healthcare training program for nurses and home health assistants. "I think we're going to get some of the smartest people in the state that have experience in Alzheimer's to really put together the best plan that we can," says Wolfendale.
The task force will look at the patients, their symptoms and support systems, but also look at the family members.
Debra Ward says, "the day to day forgetfulness is difficult to deal with." Ward's 91 year old mother has been living with Alzheimer's for about five years and is now in an assisted living facility in Naples.
"If the task force can address that day to day living with an Alzheimer's patient, I think it will be very helpful," says Ward.
With Alzheimer's patients living longer, it's also creating more strain on resources. Wolfendale says The National Alzheimer's Association is projecting to spend $200 billion to treat Alzheimer's patients in 2012.
"We need to be on the cutting edge," says Wolfendale. "We're on the front line and Florida has always been very responsive in putting together very strong task forces to deal with geriatric issues, so I am confident we're going to do that here."
The task force will meet over the course of the next year and take a plan to Governor Rick Scott.