A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CDC, Alzheimer’s Association release Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map, how to deal with dementia

In an effort to help state and local health departments address the growing Alzheimer’s crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alzheimer’s Association have released the third edition of the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map.

State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia, The 2018-2023 Road Map, provides public health officials with a set of strategies to realize a better future for all communities impacted by dementia.

The Alzheimer’s disease continuum spans decades, providing many opportunities for public health to change outcomes across communities. Just as with other chronic and degenerative conditions, public health can reduce risk, expand early detection and diagnosis, improve safety and quality of care for people living with cognitive impairment, and attend to caregivers’ health and well-being.

Click image to access report.

“Achieving meaningful progress against Alzheimer’s requires an urgent public health response,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Public Policy Officer. “The Road Map provides the public health community with concrete steps to act quickly and strategically to stimulate needed changes in policies, systems, and environments.”

To focus the public health response, experts developed 25 actions for public health leaders that are adaptable for each community’s specific needs. These actions are grounded in traditional public health strategies so leaders can easily and efficiently incorporate Alzheimer’s into existing public health initiatives.

In Kentucky, 71,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s and over 270,000 are providing unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association® 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures. Data from the Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2015 indicate 12.1 percent aged 45 and over in Kentucky experienced subjective cognitive decline in the previous 12 months, and of those, more than half said they had not discussed these changes with a health care provider. To address staggering statistics like these, Kentucky should implement the recommendations in the Road Map.

Bari Lewis, Chapter Director of Community Outreach, stresses the importance of healthy lifestyles and healthy cognition; “We know that lifestyle changes to manage other chronic conditions promotes brain health and as a result, we must look at Alzheimer’s and related dementia through the lens of public health, in order to improve the health and safety of all Kentuckians.”

In Kentucky, 90.4 percent of people who are experiencing memory problems are also managing another chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. When you consider that staggering statistic, coupled with that by 2025, the number of people in Kentucky being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will increase by 22.9 percent; it becomes clear that this is a growing public health crisis.

For more information visit alz.org/publichealth.

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