The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


September 23, 2013

What a Geistown Alzheimer's advocate had to say before the state's disease planning committee

— A Geistown woman was one of nearly two dozen Alzheimer’s disease advocates who spoke last week in Pittsburgh before a state committee on the disease.

Marie Goff, chairwoman of the Laurel Highlands Alzheimer’s Foundation, which serves Cambria and Somerset counties, presented concerns before the Pennsylvania Alzheimer’s Disease Planning Committee meeting at the University of Pittsburgh.

The state’s secretary of aging, Brian Duke, chaired the event.

Goff said the key areas discussed at the meeting were the needs of Pennsylvanians with Alzheimer’s; what additional resources are needed to support Alzheimer’s patients, their families and caregivers; and what the state can do to respond better to the growing number of patients with the disease.

Goff said at the foundation’s last support group meeting that members had a number of questions they wanted her to ask the state committee.

Goff said the concerns included asking if the amount of money spent on research for cancer was proportional to the amount spent on research for Alzheimer’s; if state funding could be allocated for respite care; and could respite care be covered under Medicare.

“Our concern is for the growing number of elderly patients in Cambria and Somerset counties,” Goff said. “We need to have something for them.”

She said Pennsylvania is second only to Florida in the largest number of elders.

The Pittsburgh meeting was the last of six such meetings held around the state.

The committee will issue its report in February.

Other foundation board members who attended the event were Ron Budash, Cindy Cameron, Joanne Graffte and Margaret Hutchison.

Locally, the foundation holds support group meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.

The foundation is holding screenings for early dementia Oct. 2 and 16 at the Johnstown Senior Community Center in downtown Johnstown.

For additional information about the foundation, call 533-8800.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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