Sen. L’Italien, Gov. Baker Celebrate Signing Landmark Alzheimer’s Bill Into Law

Sen. Barbara L'Italien hands a pen to Gov. Baker during a celebratory signing of new Alzheimer's legislation August 15 in Waltham. (Courtesy photograph)

Sen. Barbara L'Italien hands a pen to Gov. Baker during a celebratory signing of new Alzheimer's legislation August 15 in Waltham. (Courtesy photograph)

Andover Sen. Barbara L’Italien joined Gov. Charlie Baker and area Alzheimer’s advocates to sign a landmark bill into law improving awareness of and access to state resources for patients and families suffering from the disease.

Sponsored by L’Italien and Marlborough state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, the legislation prioritizes local treatment options and requires training for doctors and caregivers.

For L’Italien, whose mother Claire Sullivan L’Italien, suffered with the disease before her death last spring, the effort was personal.

“Almost everyone we meet these days has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. Thousands of seniors and many younger adults suffer from the disease across our Commonwealth. For me it was my mom, who lived in our home with us for seven of the last ten years of her life as she struggled with Alzheimer’s. Navigating her diagnosis and care taught me just how difficult it can be even for the most informed families,” the lawmaker said Wednesday.

The late Mrs. L’Italien was one of the more than 130,000 Massachusetts residents who live with dementia, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

As part of the new act, all state programs that address Alzheimer’s will be evaluated and an advisory council for Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment created, L’Italien’s office said.

The Alzheimer’s Association applauded Beacon Hill’s efforts to drive change at a ceremony touting the bill Wednesday in Waltham.

“Alzheimer's is the single largest unaddressed public health threat in the 21st century and we remain on the front lines of this crisis every day here in the Commonwealth,” the group’s Director of Public Policy Daniel Zotos said. “This is a very significant policy achievement and this landmark law will stand out as one of the most comprehensive dementia policies in the country.”