By: Robert J. Gorman
Alzheimer’s Community Care Board Member
Chair, 2015 Tallahassee Advocacy Campaign
Do you want to make a difference for the citizens of the State of Florida? Are you interested in meeting influential people? Do you want to do something special for Alzheimer’s Community Care? Do you want to meet interesting and influential people? If so, I have the perfect opportunity for you. Join me for the fourth annual Advocacy Trip to Tallahassee. Yes, we are going again and the next trip is February 3, 4 and 5, 2015. By joining members of the leadership, caregivers, staff and Board of Directors, you will have an opportunity to spend time with other caregivers, staff and advocates for our loved ones, and to meet the men and women of the legislature who determine state policies like the annual budget, which has a direct effect on our loved ones.
This year, I’m honored to be the chairperson of the Advocacy Standing Committee. This will be my fourth trip to Tallahassee. Why? Because not only to do I believe in the cause and the work of Alzheimer’s Community Care, but I also care about shaping the policy for Florida’s elder population, particularly vulnerable adults who suffer from this terrible disease and related neurological disorders, and just as importantly, their loved ones, family and caregivers. This annual trip combines fun, fellowship and serious work.
The three-day trip, funded by Alzheimer’s Community Care, involves a bus ride from South Florida to Tallahassee, two nights in a Tallahassee hotel, one day at The Capitol, and a motor coach ride home.
The day at The Capitol is always an interesting experience. You will visit, as members of a team of three-to-five people, various legislators to thank them for the support that has been given to our organization that allows us to provide the care to our vulnerable loved ones. You will also ask for continuing support, and for their support of a legislative enactment that will benefit citizens throughout Florida. During last year’s campaign we contacted approximately 200 Legislators who valued and respected our work.
Past legislative initiatives have included licensing and staffing requirements for any adult day care facilities that solicit or advertise as caring for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or other neurocognitive disorders. Last year our initiative gained widespread support in Tallahassee and unanimously sailed through House and Senate committee hearings. Now law, the legislation has resulted in day care providers becoming licensed specialized day care centers, a step that improves care for Alzheimer’s patients throughout the State of Florida.
Our first legislative effort was making the Florida Silver Alert Program state law. It was initially adopted as an executive order by Governor Charlie Christ, but as an executive order it could be stopped. Governor Rick Scott actually came to Palm Beach County to sign the law that permanently established Silver Alert. The legislative support was overwhelming and today we all know how important the Silver Alert is.
As a caregiver, your personal story is vital to our cause and, we believe, the reason our trips are so successful. The legislators get to talk to people who are directly affected and see where their efforts in Tallahassee make a difference for the citizens of Florida. You give the cause a human side.
Sitting with legislators who tell stories of their own family members who are suffering from dementia is a bonding experience for our advocates. The legislators truly understand what drives Alzheimer’s Community Care and its volunteers. For caregivers, it is an opportunity to meet other caregivers within Alzheimer’s Community Care family and throughout the state. As we all know this disease and other related neurocognitive disorders are all too common. You will be recharged from this experience. Yes, I know it is a sacrifice to be gone for three days, whether it be from your job, your family, your caregiver duties or other obligations. However, the networking and comradery is wonderful, but the great satisfaction of knowing that you have done something that will benefit your loved ones and all similarly situated families throughout the State of Florida will make you realize the importance of this effort. Join me on February 3-5 as once again Alzheimer’s Community Care travels to Tallahassee to thank our legislators for their support and to address new policy matters and issues facing the care of our most vulnerable, reestablishing dignity and thereby improving the quality of their lives and those of our caregivers.
I look forward to “filling the bus” with advocates for Alzheimer’s patients and families.