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Somerville's Jehlen lauds passage of dementia patient care bill

Posted by Matt Byrne  July 17, 2012 10:04 AM

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Jeremiah Robinson/Office of Governor Deval Patrick

Somerville Democrat Patricia Jehlen joined Governor Deval Patrick as he signed into law a bill to help protect elderly patients with dementia that mandates more training for long-term caretakers, specialized activities for patients, and new guidelines to facilitate a more therapeutic environment in long-term care facilities.

The bill also establishes minimum safety and quality standards for dementia care units, the governor's office said in a statement. It was sponsored by Lynn Democratic Representative Steven Walsh, and a joint committee on health care financing.

"Appropriate care and a well-trained staff can allow people with dementia to live without the anxiety and/or over medication that is the fate of too many and give them a chance to have a creative and enjoyable experience," said Jehlen, who chairs the senate Elder Affairs Committee. "I think it is really important for people to have confidence that their relatives or people they care about are getting this appropriate level of care."

More than 120,000 people in Massachusetts live with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, said Representative Alice Wolf, who chairs the house Elder Affairs Committee.

Matt Byrne can be reached at mbyrne.globe@gmail.com.

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