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AARP Ohio Volunteer Diane Pekunka Appointed to Ohio’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Task Force

AARP Representative Diane Pekunka

AARP Ohio’s Statewide Advocacy Volunteer Lead, Diane Pekunka, has recently been appointed by Governor Mike DeWine to the newly formed Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Task Force. The Task Force is the next step in the creation of an Alzheimer’s plan for the Buckeye State.

Diane is looking forward to advocating for consumers in achieving the goals of The Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Task Force. As an AARP representative she will work with the Ohio Task Force to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the burden the diseases places on patients, caregivers and government. The task force plans to provide resources and evaluate services for patients and family caregivers.

“The task force will examine the needs of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias, the services available in Ohio for these individuals and the ability of healthcare providers and facilities to meet the current and future needs of these individuals,” Pekunka says.  “The task force will then write and submit a report on its findings and recommendations to Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly.”

This new appointment gives Pekunka the chance to connect with individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease as well as their families and caregivers.  She hopes to gain new insights in this position while assessing commonsense policy solutions to aid lawmakers in addressing Alzheimer’s and other dementia issues in the state. .

“I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the needs, treatments and services available now to these individuals and the experiences of their caregivers who are often family members who are managing their loved one's care while balancing responsibilities of work, family and their own healthcare.”  Diane notes.

Diane is committed to continuing her role as Ohio’s Statewide Advocacy Volunteer Lead while serving on the Task Force. She notes that her AARP volunteer leadership experience has given her great insights and prepared her in numerous ways for her role on the task force representing consumers and the 50+.

After retiring from a fulfilling career with Scott’s Miracle-Gro in 2016, Pekunka knew that she wanted to stay engaged in her community in some way.  Having moved to Dublin, Ohio in 2000, Pekunka, a New York native, had heard from several friends that AARP Ohio was doing extraordinary work to support Ohioans 50+.  Pekunka began volunteering with AARP in 2018 and has since become an AARP volunteer leader within the organization.

“It’s been an enjoyable position because I’ve been able to work with a variety of people,” Pekunka recalls.  “Advocacy is multifaceted; advocacy objectives are devoted to healthcare, security, fraud initiatives and more.  I’ve gotten my feet wet in a lot of areas in that sense.”

Pekunka wants to accomplish as much as she can while on the task force and hopes that she can be a source of information and compassion for the individuals she reaches out to.

“I look forward to this work because it affords me the opportunity to represent AARP Ohio and advocate for family caregivers,” Diane says.   “I also look forward to collaborating on recommendations to strengthen services for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and related dementias.”

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