A strong, competent and robust health care and public health workforce is essential to address the rising tide of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Public health officials can ensure that both primary and speciality care clinicians are trained to recognize the early warning signs of cognitive impairment, refer families impacted by dementia to appropriate care and support services, and advise patients how to reduce risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia.

Primed for implementation: HBI Road Map

Action W-3 — Educate public health professionals about the best available evidence on dementia (including detection) and dementia caregiving, the role of public health, and sources of information, tools and assistance to support public health action.

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And, public health increasingly works side-by-side with an array of health care organizations and health systems to improve the health of communities. Assuring a competent and capable holistic health system — across an entire population — is a cornerstone of traditional public health work.

The dementia care workforce includes nurses, home health professionals, social workers, pharmacists, physicians, community health workers, first responders and more. Each profession has specialized knowledge and competencies that, if shared, could help other professionals become more effective in their particular roles. By coordinating interprofessional training, public health practitioners can facilitate greater appreciation for others’ contributions, share knowledge and skills, and improve working relationships.

Public health and healthcare professionals need materials they can share with consumers, especially credible information on brain health and ways to reduce risk of cognitive decline. Outreach to health professionals can call attention to the importance of promoting caregivers’ health and supporting their role in managing dementia and other chronic conditions and ensuring safety. Integrating cognitive functioning and caregiving into existing health promotion and chronic disease efforts has the potential to increase the reliability of care and related outcomes.

To help the public health community educate, train, and build the competencies of providers, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed this topic-specific issue map — Educating and Training Professionals. 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.

Curriculum for use in schools of public health

To help educate the future public health workforce, A Public Health Approach to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias is a free, introductory curriculum intended to increase awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s and other dementias as well as the role of public health in addressing this crisis.

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Advance care planning

An early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s allows individuals living with dementia and their families to better prepare for the future by documenting wishes for care, finances and legal matters. Plans also should designate a care team, power of attorney and guardianship when warranted. The sooner planning starts, the more the individual with dementia can participate and express his or her own preferences. Knowing the individual’s wishes helps eliminate guesswork for families and caregivers and allows for the individual with dementia to designate a surrogate decision-maker when necessary.

Clinicians can be reimbursed for providing comprehensive care planning services to individuals with cognitive impairment — including cognitive and safety evaluations, caregiver interview, and planning for palliative care needs. The public health community can ensure clinicians are trained on the use of reimbursable care planning services. CPT billing code 99483 allows clinicians to be reimbursed for providing a comprehensive set of care planning services to people with cognitive impairment and their caregivers.  

Learn more: Care planning for cognitive impairment

State success: Training professionals in Utah

The Utah Department of Health trained hundreds of health professionals, caregivers and people living with dementia about effective communication strategies for people with cognitive impairment and ways to promote independence. Read the case study 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 Planning for Action: Initial Steps for implementing the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dissemination Guide
Health Resources and Services Administration Training Curriculum: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

 
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AK Department of Health and Social Services Department of Health and Social Services briefed public health and aging stakeholders about applying public health approaches to Alzheimer’s disease, including Road Map action items.
AZ Department of Health Arizona Department of Health conducted a community needs assessments for caregivers.
CA California Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health included Alzheimer’s data in its annual county health status profiles report
CA City of San Diego County public health agency conducted needs assessments in 2015 and 2016
CA City of San Diego City of San Diego published a city-wide evaluation of their dementia-readiness
CA City of San Francisco City of San Francisco developed and reported an evaluation aimed at improving dementia care
CA City of San Francisco Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association convened a summit for emergency department physicians on detection and diagnosis.
CA City of Santa Clara Assessed where more resources are needed to assist in the early detection and diagnosis of individuals with dementia by mapping where people with dementia were "entering" the system (e.g., hospitals, aging services).
CA San Diego County San Diego County Health & Human Services Department released report on Alzheimer’s disease in San Diego County
CO Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Raised awareness about the public health significance of Alzheimer’s disease by analyzing data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey modules on cognition and caregiving and disseminating findings.
FL Florida Department of Health Incorporated Alzheimer’s disease into the State Health Improvement Plan, which guides how FDOH and its partners will improve the health of Floridians.
GA Department of Public Health Georgia Department of Public Health analyzed surveillance data to describe the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias among Georgia Medicare beneficiaries, including the overall burden, disparities, and impact on service utilization and related costs.
GA Department of Public Health State government established a position to coordinate work on Alzheimer’s disease and the implementation of the state Alzheimer’s disease plan.
ID Department of Health and Welfare Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Public Health, published its analysis of dementia mortality data from 2014
KS Kansas Department of Health and Environment Informed decision-makers about Alzheimer’s and other dementias by incorporating data on cognitive health into public health burden reports, including chronic disease and injury prevention.
MA City of Boston City of Boston includes dementia specific-recommendations to improve care and support throughout the city.
MD Maryland Department of Health Assured state’s council on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias has public health expertise and involvement by serving as council co-chair with the Maryland Department of Aging.
MD Maryland Department of Health Facilitated the integration of cognition and cognitive health concerns into public health programming, including older driver safety and education of public health professionals.
MD Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides small grants to local health improvement coalitions to help them provide individuals with educational programs and resources on cognitive health, aging, and financial and legal planning.
MN Minnesota Department of Health Developed a framework to identify high-risk communities with data analyses, help prioritize resources, and expand cognitive health partnerships throughout the health department.
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 Chisago County Public Health Department Chisago County Public Health Department supported training of local law enforcement officers and first responders on how to effectively communicate with and serve people with dementia.
MN City of Northfield Conducted a community-wide assessment of community organizations, nursing homes, and health systems to identify needs and gaps in services/supports and to determine what existing resources could be used to fill gaps.
MN Department of Health Convened a public stakeholder meeting with state agency staff (including public health, human services, and aging services) and community organizations to examine what policies (and what Road Map action items) can positively affect families with Alzheimer's throughout the state.
MN Department of Health Minnesota Department of Health will include dementia alongside other chronic conditions and obesity in its annual report regarding projected health and long-term care spending. Beginning in Nov. 2016, the health commissioner may apply any savings between projected versus actual outlays to state-administered health care programs.
MN University of Minnesota School of Public Health University of Minnesota School of Public Health created a dedicated professorship focused on dementia education for public health students (anticipated to begin in 2016-2017 academic year). Curriculum development underway.
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.
MS State Department of Health Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) incorporated cognitive health into the MSDH Coordinated Chronic Disease Plan and the Health Promotion State Plan
NC Department of Health and Human Services North Carolina’s Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT), part of the state’s public health surveillance system, was used to analyze five years of data to obtain rates of emergency department visits with a dementia diagnosis
NJ Department of Health New Jersey Department of Health arranged for the Alzheimer’s Association to brief its commissioner’s deputies on the Alzheimer’s Road Map and Alzheimer’s as a public health issue.
NM Department of Health New Mexico Department of Health conducted a symposium on the public health aspects of Alzheimer’s at the New Mexico Public Health Association’s annual meeting.
NY State Department of Health New York State Department of Health informed public health professionals and others about the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the state and its impact on Medicaid service utilization and costs in a Medicaid Update newsletter.
OR Oregon Department of Human Services Adding Years to Life and Life to Years: A case study of public health's contribution to healthy aging in Oregon
OR Department of Human Services Oregon Public Health Division hosted a symposium for state and local public health officials on intersection of public health and Alzheimer’s.
PA State of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania bill (RH 969) resolves the Secretary of Health to designate Alzheimer's disease and related disorders a public health issue.
TN Department of Health Tennessee Department of Health arranged for the Alzheimer’s Association to brief about 20 of its top leaders on the Alzheimer’s Road Map and Alzheimer’s as a public health issue.
UT Department of Health Utah Department of Health featured Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their impact on the state in its May 2016 Monthly Health Status Update for public health professionals and stakeholders.
VA Virginia Department of Health Virginia Department of Health added weblinks to the department's website on Alzheimer's, dementia, and brain health
VT University of Vermont College of Medicine University of Vermont College of Medicine engaged public health students to document the medical community’s views about assessing for dementia and preferences for training. Students subsequently developed an online course for the medical community.
 

Curriculum for use in schools of public health

To help educate the future public health workforce, A Public Health Approach to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias is an introductory curriculum intended to increase awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s and other dementias as well as the role of public health in addressing this crisis. Developed by the Centers for Technical Assistance and Training in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, this flexible, introductory curriculum will help faculty prepare undergraduates for careers in which they need to apply public health approaches to address Alzheimer’s as a multi-layered, growing public health challenge.

Designed for instructors to for use in undergraduate courses, the modular design of the curriculum enables use in entirety or as stand-alone modules. Each module has a slide set and faculty guide with learning objectives, list of relevant competencies, talking points, and teaching aids. Microsoft Office formats enable users to adapt materials for integration into existing undergraduate courses or other educational offerings.
 

Educate the Future Public Health Workforce

This curriculum is free, ready-to-use and easy to incorporate into your existing courses.

Module 1: Alzheimer’s and Dementia – A Public Health Crisis
Module 1 frames Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as a public health epidemic with a large and rapidly growing burden that bears significant impact on the nation.

Module 2: Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias – The Basics
Module 2 describes Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias including symptoms, stages, risk factors, and diagnosis/management.

Module 3: Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias – What is the Role of Public Health?
Module 3 discusses three tools of public health that may play a significant role in mitigating the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic: surveillance/monitoring, primary prevention, and early detection and diagnosis.

Module 4: Dementia Capable Systems and Dementia Friendly Communities
Module 4 addresses the public health response to the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic on a state and community level. The module describes the concept of a “dementia capable” system and explores how public health may support the development of such systems through public health research and translation, support services and programs, workforce training, and the creation of dementia-friendly communities.

Receive updates on our curriculum

If you would like to receive information on our curriculum resources, please send us an email and we will share future updates about the curricular materials listed on this page. Questions or suggestions, contact Molly French.