EDITORIAL: Help families affected by dementia care for loved ones

Sep. 25—Millions of Americans are familiar with the ordeal that actor/comedian Seth Rogen's family faced when his mother-in-law was afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

The difference between Rogen and most other Americans is that he could afford to pay for home health care out of pocket.

"The only way that it was remotely manageable is that I have an incredibly high-paying job," he said in a recent meeting with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Scranton. "If that wasn't the case, it would have completely destroyed our family's ability to do any of the things we consider normal."

Rogen and his wife, Laura Miller Rogen, formed Hilarity for Charity, a foundation that raises money for brain research and provides grants to families to pay between three and six months of home care for Alzheimer's patients. It funded 259 such grants in 2021.

The couple visited Casey, chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, to help promote his Better Care, Better Jobs Act. About 3.5 million families receive some government assistance to provide home care under Medicaid, which is funded by federal and state governments but administered at the state level. Some states severely limit the assistance, so that nationwide about 820,000 are on waiting lists for assistance at home.

Casey's bill would expand Medicaid eligibility. It would provide extra funding to raise the wages of home health aides, who are in short supply partially due to low wages.

Even with wage increases, home care is far less expensive than institutional care. In many cases, it is far better for the patient's well-being and families' peace of mind. Congress should pass the bill to help more families better care for loved ones afflicted with dementia.