By Jennifer Braisted, Director of Government Affairs at the Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Region
Whether it was traveling through multiple time zones or sitting on a bus for 540 miles, nothing could stop advocates from getting to Tallahassee for the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Alzheimer’s Rally in Tally. Over 70 advocates made the trek to raise their voice and turn the Old Historic Capitol purple for Florida state advocacy days.
The event kicked off on Tuesday, February 7 with the Brain Bus arriving at the Capitol. Elected officials toured the mobile outreach initiative that has served Floridians with critical care and support, from Key West to Pensacola and everywhere in between. Our advocates asked for continued funding for this program which, thanks to the Florida legislature, was able to go statewide in 2019.
Lighting the Capitol Purple
Advocates arrived in town and headed to the Old Historic Capitol to see it light up in purple. We held our annual press conference and purple lighting ceremony (watch the livestream here) to announce our 2023 legislative priorities.
Legislative priorities include:
- Establish baseline dementia training standards for all long-term care providers.
- Sustain funding for the Alzheimer’s Association Brain Bus initiative.
- Implement a statewide Alzheimer’s and related dementias public awareness campaign.
- Increase funding for critically needed, person-centered care home and community based services.
- Support continued funding of the Ed and Ethel Moore Research Program.
Special guests included Florida Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Michelle Branham, Dementia Director Cari Eyre Representative Michelle Salzman and Representative Dean Black. Attendees also heard from Sury Veliz who bravely shared her story living with Alzheimer’s and why she came to Tallahassee to use her voice.
On Wednesday, advocates donned in their best purple outfits met with over 84 legislators and staff. They shared their personal stories and asked for support for critical legislation and funding.
Creating Real Change
One of the Association’s priorities is HB 299, The Florida Alzheimer’s and Dementia Education and Training Act. This legislation will ensure that all long-term care providers have baseline dementia training standards. After advocate meetings, the bill already has 5 co-sponsors!
Advocates also shared the importance of critical funding for early detection and diagnosis through a statewide public awareness campaign and the Brain Bus. Many caregivers expressed the importance of home and community based services that provide respite like the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative (ADI) and Community Care for the Elderly (CCE).
Advocates from across the state who were unable to attend were able to take action to amplify the voices of our advocates in Tallahassee. We had more than 134 advocates participate in our action campaign, sharing their support for our 2023 legislative priorities.
Time to Take Action
Just because we’re back from Tallahassee doesn’t mean our work is over. As we go into the 2023 Florida legislative session beginning on March 7, we know there is still more work to be done. We need your voice to ensure Alzheimer’s is a priority. If you are interested in getting involved in our advocacy efforts, please visit alzimpact.org/volunteer.