Alzheimer News 12/2/2010
First-time inclusion of Alzheimer's and dementia in Healthy People 2020
The Alzheimer's Association is pleased that for the first time since its inception in 1979, the federal government's Healthy People report includes national health goals and objectives related to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The report — known as Healthy People 2020 — represents the nation's highest priorities for health promotion and disease prevention and is central to establishing measurable national public health goals for coming decade at all levels of government.
With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's today and as many as 16 million individuals who could be affected by 2050, inclusion in Healthy People 2020 underscores the recognition of the growing public health threat Alzheimer's and dementia pose to the nation.
Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death and was the only one of the 10 leading causes of death that did not have a designated topic area in the Proposed Healthy People 2020 Objectives released last fall. A strong grassroots mobilization effort led by the Alzheimer's Association, which included Alzheimer advocates from across the country, a number of the nation's top scientists and researchers, and policymakers from across the political spectrum, has resulted in the inclusion of Alzheimer's and other dementias as a new and separate topic area clearly conveying the importance of Alzheimer's and dementia on a national scale.
The objectives identified in the report include increasing the proportion of persons with diagnosed Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, or their caregiver, who are aware of the diagnosis. Awareness that Alzheimer's or dementia is present is central to ensuring individuals and their families have knowledge of available treatments, care and support services and also greater opportunities to make future care, financial and legal plans. Yet today, fewer than half of those with Alzheimer's have a diagnosis in their medical records.
Another key objective that would contribute to decreasing costs associated with the disease is the goal of reducing the number of preventable hospitalizations for individuals living with Alzheimer's and other dementias. People with Alzheimer's and other dementia typically have higher hospital admissions, longer stays and higher hospital readmission rates — and therefore incur higher costs. Preventable hospitalizations are defined as a hospitalization for a condition that can be prevented altogether or whose course can be mitigated with optimum outpatient management, thus preventing the hospitalization.
"Alzheimer's disease prevalence increases with age, which is why the number of people affected by these conditions will soar rapidly — in lock step with increases in the number of adults age 65 and older from 2011 to 2030," said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association vice president of public policy." As the leading research, advocacy and support organization for Alzheimer's disease, the Association has actively sought the inclusion of Alzheimer's and dementia in Healthy People 2020. We recognize the importance of having Alzheimer's clearly represented in the national health framework, as it is central to all levels of government taking action to address the mounting crisis."
The Association recognizes the efforts of its strong network of advocates who made their concerns about the absence of the disease in the proposed draft well-known. Additionally, the Association would like to thank the Healthy Aging Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which worked to educate the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020, the Federal Interagency Workgroup, and other stakeholders about the importance of having Alzheimer's and dementia included in Healthy People 2020.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. For more information, visit www.alz.org.