Lubarsky, Meyer contribute to recommendations of Governor’s first-ever Alzheimer’s task force

Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the United States, costing the nation more than $305 billion annually, in addition to its immense emotional toll on families across California and the country. To prepare for the rising numbers of cases in an aging state, Gov. Gavin Newsom established the first Governor’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s Prevention, Preparedness and the Path Forward in August 2019.

Preventing Alzheimer's and addressing the concerns of an aging population are priorities for California.
Preventing Alzheimer's and addressing the concerns of an aging population are priorities for California.

The diverse task force of experts and advocates, chaired by former California First Lady Maria Shriver, includes Vice Chancellor of Human Health Sciences and UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky, assistant professor of neurology at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center Oanh Le Meyer, and California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris (a UC Davis School of Medicine graduate).

Last Thursday, Nov. 19, the task force presented its recommendations to Newsom during a digital convening. In particular, the group focused on how Alzheimer’s disproportionately impacts women and people of color, and examined the unique opportunities that California – and its world-class universities – have to develop solutions for underrepresented communities.

“California is the most diverse state in the nation, so we are well-poised to establish a pipeline of diverse and underrepresented scholars in Alzheimer’s research, investigators who mirror the diversity of the population and can conduct research that is inclusive,” said Meyer, who is quoted in the recommendation report.

Among the 10 recommendations – ranging from appointing a Senior Advisor on Alzheimer’s to launching a public awareness campaign – is a call to establish California voluntary savings accounts for long-term care.

“[Caregivers] are saying ‘we need help today.’ And that is some help we can get literally to every caregiver in California in the next year,” Lubarsky said in the report.

UC Davis is uniquely positioned to support the state’s efforts on Alzheimer’s, given the expertise of its Family Caregiving Institute at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and the health system’s recently launched Aging Initiative.

In fact, the recommendations of the Alzheimer’s task force will be reviewed for inclusion as part of the state’s forthcoming Master Plan for Aging, addressing the concerns of California’s growing population of older adults.