The challenges of caring for persons living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias can become difficult and overwhelming, especially when intensive care is needed for long periods of time. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is often very intimate, very intrusive and frequently results in higher health care needs and health care usage for the caregivers themselves.  

Primed for implementation: HBI Road Map

Action W-7 — Educate health care professionals to be mindful of the health risks for caregivers, encourage caregivers’ use of available information and tools, and make referrals to supportive programs and services.

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Caregiving, however, can also be a rewarding experience, bringing family members closer together in time of need. The public health community can play a central role offering information, guidance and supportive resources to caregivers to help them provide effective dementia care, attend to their own well-being and maximize the positive qualities of caregiving.

Caregivers can benefit from compelling and easy-to-use content about how to enhance their own health while caring for their loved ones. Some of the many resources that public health can help expand, promote or tailor to specific populations include:

  • Community-based programs for physical activity, chronic disease self-care and caregiver education.
  • Peer support groups and social gatherings for people affected by dementia and their caregivers.
  • Online support and information resource centers.
  • Apps for caregivers and persons living with dementia and GPS tracking devices.
  • Home healthcare services and home modification programs.
  • Adult day care and respite care.
  • Advanced care and advanced financial planning.
  • Transportation services.
  • Information and referral services.

Through educational outreach and promotion of best practices, public health officials can educate and empower health care providers to be mindful of the unique health risks caregivers face including how to maintain their own health, well-being and independence.

To help the public health community better meet the needs of dementia caregivers, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed this topic-specific issue map — Supporting Caregivers. It offers compelling data on the topic, a primer explaining the need for action, suggests related HBI Road Map actions, and provides case studies to demonstrate successful implementation.

State success: Supporting caregivers in the community across New York

The Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative through the New York State Department of Health is designed to support caregivers and people living with dementia in the community using evidence-based strategies. Read the executive summary and full evaluation from the initiative’s first year to learn more.

State-specific action you can take

Communities are taking public health action against Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Find out how the disease impacts your state and what you can do to make Alzheimer's the next public health success story.

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Featured Resources

Alzheimer's Association & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Supporting Caregivers - Healthy Brain Initiative Issue Map
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Caregiving for Family and Friends: A Public Health Issue
Native America Calling Caring for Relatives with Dementia
National Indian Council on Aging Saavy Caregiver in Indian Country

 
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Find examples of public health action for caregivers below:

State University of New York-Plattsburgh To support caregivers in the St. Regis Mohawk Nation, an Alzheimer's Navigator delivers education and coordinates support groups throughout the area. Additional services (including respite, transportation assistance, and caregiving training) are offered.
AL Alabama Department of Public Health Alabama Department of Public Health disseminated BRFSS information on cognitive decline to different programs within the department and to shared the materials at health fairs, conferences, and other events in June 2018, in recognition of Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month.
AZ Department of Health Services Arizona Department of Health Services and partners developed educational fact sheets about dementia, tailored to racially and ethnically diverse populations (via NACDD grant). The department also added information about Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving to its website
FL Florida Department of Health Enhanced knowledge of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, caregiving, and community resources at the Symposium through sessions for caregivers and the general public.
IL Department of Public Health Illinois Department of Public Health analyzed existing data sources on Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving
MD Maryland Department of Health Promoted advance directives by collaborating with: 1) the Maryland Faith Health Network, which educated more than 500 Marylanders about advance care planning through health fairs, faith-based events, and end-of-life educational seminars; and 2) three local health improvement coalitions, which educated almost 150 participants in seven courses on advance planning.
MN Minnesota Department of Health Informed efforts to make communities more supportive of people living with dementia and their caregivers by integrating cognitive and caregiver surveillance data and related resources into county fact sheets; MDH prioritized counties that have a high proportion of at-risk older adults.
MN Benton, Sherburne, and Stearns Countie County public health departments are developing a guide for employers on how to integrate dementia awareness and education, plus caregiver support, into worksite wellness programs
MO Missouri Department of Health and Social Services Added "Honor a Caregiver during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month" to the MO DHSS homepage banner during Novement 2018 - clicking on the photo would take visitors to alz.org
MO Missouri Department of Health and Social Services Expand DHSS efforts on Alzheimer’s and other dementias as public health issues by incorporating cognition and caregiving into the State Health Improvement Plan, Coordinated Chronic Disease Plan, and Healthy Aging Plan.
MO Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice The Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice surveyed local public health agencies in Missouri, which revealed a need for more information about supports available to care partners for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The college worked with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter, to send care partner brochures and resource sheets to all local public health agencies in the state.
NM New Mexico Department of Health Improved support for caregivers of people living with dementia by co-marketing chronic disease selfmanagement courses and caregiving education programs; initial outreach resulted in more than 150 caregiver-participants.
NM Department of Health New Mexico Department of Public Health’s September 2016 Employee Wellness newsletter (sent to 3,200 state employees) focused on healthy aging. It included basic information on education and support for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; the link between healthy lifestyle and brain health, with encouragement to use the ACL Brain Health Resource toolkit; and advance care planning (general).
NY New York State Department of Health New York State Department of Health, through its partnership with the University of Albany, conducted an online training for health care providers: Determining Caregiver Needs and Well Being.
NY State Department of Health New York State Department of Health joined the Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance and is providing extensive training for employees on Alzheimer’s and caregiving in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. As a first step, department leaders posted an article on its intranet to announce this new effort, and the article will be shared with other NY state agencies to encourage them to join as well.
OR Department of Human Services Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Human Services conduct a statewide summit on Healthy Aging and the Healthy Brain Initiative during which both the Oregon Chapter and the Oregon Public Health Division educated health and human services professionals about the role of public health in addressing Alzheimer’s and caregiving.
OR Tribal Health Agencies Tribal health agencies added a session on caregiving for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in their annual caregiver summit.
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control involved local Alzheimer’s chapters in the development of a strategic plan aimed at integrating cognitive impairment and caregiver issues.
SC Department of Health and Environmental Control South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Division of Healthy Aging, included an article titled “November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month” in its monthly newsletter. The article provides basic information about Alzheimer’s disease.
SD South Dakota Department of Health Alzheimer's Association provided regular education to surveyors within the Office of Licensure and Certification which oversees care facilities across the state.
UT Utah Department of Health Prepared health care and other community professionals to effectively interact with people living with dementia by collaborating with the University of South Carolina to train over 50 people to teach Dementia Dialogues; the newly trained instructors delivered the five-session course to more than 500 community caregivers and health care workers over a 12-month period.
UT Department of Health Utah Department of Health partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, Utah Chapter, to create a resource guide for health care providers on cognitive assessment tools, resources available for patient referrals, and the care planning billing code (99483) for comprehensive cognitive assessment and care planning (including the role of care partners).
VA Virginia Department of Health Virginia Department of Health added weblinks to the department's website on Alzheimer's, dementia, and brain health
WI Wisconsin Department of Health Services Collaborated in implementation of state Alzheimer's disease plan by helping develop a caregiver road map titled Dementia Road Map: A Guide for Family and Care Partners.
WI Wisconsin Department of Health Services Developed online training for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia and provides a list of resources for caregivers
WI Wisconsin Department of Health Services Wisconsin Department of Health Services and a designated group of stakeholders, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO), Center for Career Development and Employability Training (CCDET) is developing a series of free, online trainings related to dementia care for crisis responders, caregivers, healthcare providers, family and community members, and other professionals. A Spanish-language version is available.
WI Department of Health Services Wisconsin’s secretary of health sent a letter to the Wisconsin Medical Society encouraging health care providers and organizations to use available resources to promote awareness of cognitive impairment and dementia within the state, to enhance early detection and diagnosis, and to make referrals to in-state resources.