Alzheimer's places a huge burden on the health care system, with annual costs exceeding a quarter of a trillion dollars. People living with dementia often require more frequent hospitalization, often have more complicating conditions, and utilize a large share of costly residential care:

Primed for implementation: HBI Road Map

Action P-3 — Support better informed decisions by educating policymakers on the basics of cognitive health and impairment, the impact of dementia on caregivers and communities, and the role of public health in addressing this priority problem.

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  • People with Alzheimer's or other dementias have twice as many hospital stays per year as other older people.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer's or other dementias are more likely than those without dementia to have other chronic conditions.
  • People with Alzheimer's or other dementias make up a large proportion of all elderly people who receive adult day services and nursing home care.

By improving the quality of care and support services for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the public health community may help reduce these costs and improve outcomes, well-being and overall quality of life for those impacted. Public health officials can ensure the highest quality of care by improving health care provider training, partnering with health systems to adequately assess and address the unique challenges posed by dementia, and educating policymakers and government officials about evidence-informed standards.

Higher quality care and support may lead to fewer preventable hospitalizations, fewer complications from other chronic conditions, and allow individuals living with dementia to remain in the community longer thereby delaying more costly residential care.

State success: Enhancing first responder training in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment trained emergency medical services personnel to better serve people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 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 Financial & Legal Planning
Health Resources and Services Administration Training Curriculum: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

 
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Find examples of public health action to improve quality of care below:

CA Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health convened stakeholder meeting (including health plans, health care providers, researchers, and community organizations) to update the Guideline for Alzheimer’s Disease Management (via an NACDD grant)
CA Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health worked with California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers to update the Alzheimer’s Clinical Care Guideline and provide a toolkit for community practitioners on early detection and diagnosis in support of the updated guideline.
CA Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health worked with the California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers to develop a toolkit for community practitioners on early detection and diagnosis. The toolkit will align with Alzheimer’s Clinical Care Guidelines.
CA Department of Public Health Updated the guideline for primary care providers on detection, diagnosis, communication of diagnosis, and care pathways; guidance includes information about the role of caregivers.
CO Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Trained nearly 100 first responders how to effectively interact with people living with dementia, and created and distributed the workplace poster, Tips for EMS Working with People with Alzheimer’s to remind trainees of best practices.
CO Department of Public Health and Environment Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment—with local Alzheimer’s Association chapters—is teaching first responders how to effectively communicate with and serve people with dementia.
FL Florida Department of Health Educated clinicians and researchers about cognitive health, early detection of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, dementia care, and caregiving at the Florida Health Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Research Symposium.
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 Department of Public Health trained clinical staff (70 physicians and 75 nurse practitioners) about dementia and the need for increased awareness and diagnosis.
GA Department of Public Health Georgia Department of Public Health hosts educational webinar for physicians on dementia awareness, Medicare Annual Wellness Visit, and the importance of early detection and diagnosis. continuing medical education (CME) credit available for successful completion.
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.
HI State Department of Health The Hawaii Director of Health sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to physicians encouraging early detection and diagnosis, including through the use of the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit benefit. The letter recommended training and informational resources. Update to Dementia Capability Curriculum for public health professionals, clinicians, and aging services (via an NACDD grant).
IL Department of Public Health The Illinois Department of Public Health partnered with the Illinois Public Health Association to conduct a webinar with continuing education units to educate public health professionals about the role of local public health agencies in promoting early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
KS Kansas Department of Health and Environment Educated health care providers on the importance of early detection and diagnosis, with a focus on rural providers.
KS Kansas Department of Health and Environment Increased public awareness of risk reduction messages to enhance early detection and reduce stigma via a partnership with the Kansas State Extension Office; trained almost 50 Extension Officers to educate Kansans about Alzheimer’s and brain health in counties across the state.
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.
LA Louisiana Department of Health Educated LDH supervisors about workplace support for caregivers (especially employees caring for people living with dementia); the online training module is available to supervisors in all state agencies, and Louisiana social workers can receive continuing education for successful completion of the module.
LA Department of Health Louisiana Department of Health conducted a workshop for its employees on advance care and advance financial planning.
LA Department of Health Louisiana Department of Health distributed materials about brain health, advance financial planning, and advanced care planning (including brochures from the Alzheimer’s Association Louisiana Chapter) at various community events.
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 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.
MD Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encouraged public health professionals to learn about cognitive health in its September 2016 Chronic Disease Connection newsletter.
MD Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene invited the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter policy director to brief the Maryland Advisory Council on Heart Disease and Stroke on the heart-brain connection. (July 2016)
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.
ME Department of Health and Human Services Distributed the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Maine – a special insert for health care providers on cognitive assessment tools, early detection, and the value of early diagnosis – to primary care professionals through hospital and health systems.
MN Minnesota Department of Health Educated community health workers on the oral health needs of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias by developing a curriculum and partnering with institutions that train these workers.
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 Dakota County Public Health Department Dakota County Public Health Department is enhancing evidence-based falls prevention programs to encourage early identification of people with dementia and to better serve this population.
MN Department of Human Services Minnesota Department of Human Services established a common point of entry for reporting abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults statewide, including those with dementia.
MO Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services With the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice conducted two webinar trainings for professionals employed with local public health agencies, adult protective services, and Veterans Administration. The first webinar covered Alzheimer’s basics and the other addressed cognitive assessment tools. Participants were offered continuing education units.
MS Department of Mental Health Mississippi Department of Mental Health included dementia-specific considerations for improving access to care for those with Alzheimer’s.
MS State Department of Health Completed assessment of barriers, which if altered, would facilitate the integration of brain health into chronic disease programs. Results will help guide the development of introductory materials for public health professionals and future work.
MT Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Medical Director sent a "Dear Colleague" letter about the benefits of early detection and diagnosis to the Nurses Association, Medical Association, and Hospital Association.
NE University of Nebraska Medical Center The University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Alzheimer’s Association, Nebraska Chapter trained Alzheimer’s navigators across the state.
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 Integrated basic information about cognitive impairment and dementia into New Mexico Department of Health’s process for onboarding new employees.
NM New Mexico Healthy Aging Collaborative New Mexico Healthy Aging Collaborative includes “cognitive health” as part of its multi-agency effort to support elders in New Mexico.
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 The New York State Health Commissioner sent a November 2016 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, encouraging health care providers to “play their part in the early detection/diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias.” The letter highlights dementia prevalence data and various resources, including the NYS Alzheimer’s Disease Support Initiative
NY State Department of Health Contracted with the University of Albany to analyze a representative sample of Medicare Annual Wellness Visit data in large physician groups’ health IT systems to assess the extent to which physicians are routinely performing cognitive assessments.
NY State Department of Health New York State Department of Health awarded Centers of Excellence contracts to train physicians, nurses, and social workers about early detection and diagnosis.
NY State Department of Health New York State Department of Health partnered with University of Albany to provide free CME online training for primary care physicians, along with informational resources and tools.
NY State Department of Health To address disparities, the New York State Department of Health funded a two-year referral and outreach demonstration project that primarily serves African-American and Hispanic communities
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 Oregon Public Health Authority Oregon Public Health Authority aids the integration of brain health and healthy aging into community health improvement plans through a partner meeting.
PR Departamento de Salud Created and promoted a 6-CME/CEU educational module, Alzheimer’s Disease: Early Detection and Diagnosis, for physicians, nurses, psychologists, health educators and social workers.
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.
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.
TN Tennessee Department of Health Educated public health professionals about cognitive health, health indicators, diagnosis, and community resources via an issue brief developed from original data analyses and conducted a live training webinar to discuss findings and implications for public health practice.
TX City of San Antonio Educated and trained all transit employees, senior center employees, and police department staff on Alzheimer’s basics, early warning signs of dementia, and dealing with people with dementia.
UT Utah Department of Health Promoted early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other dementias by documenting cognitive assessment practices during Medicare Annual Wellness Visits; disseminated study findings to all Utah primary care physicians; and, distributed a list of resources for people with cognitive impairment along with a recommendation from UDOH’s executive director for routine cognitive screening during the Annual Wellness Visit.
UT Department of Health Developing dementia-related competencies of primary care providers and non-health workforces across the continuum of care through Dementia Dialogues.
UT Department of Health The executive director of the Utah Department of Health issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter explaining the importance of assessing cognition during the Annual Medicare Wellness Visit.
UT Department of Health Utah Department of Health contracted with Health Insight (a quality improvement organization) to query primary care providers about current efforts and challenges related to assessing for cognitive impairment and caring for people with dementia.
UT Department of Health Utah Department of Health posted an Alzheimer’s Association anti-smoking message on the Facebook page of its Quitline campaign.
UT Department of Health Utah Department of Health worked with partners to plan and host a physician summit to identify validated cognitive assessment tools that can be used during patients’ Medicare Annual Wellness Visit and to begin developing physician guidance on cognitive assessment.
VT Department of Health Tobacco cessation campaign – 802Quits – trained health care providers about dementia risk and smoking and provided a link to WHO’s tobacco and dementia brief.
VT Department of Health Vermont Department of Health partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, Vermont Chapter, to conduct a webinar for public health professionals on early detection and diagnosis.
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.
WI Department of Health Services With legislative support, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will award grants to counties for their mobile crisis teams to obtain training on recognizing and serving individuals with dementia.
WI Local Public Health Offices Regional public health offices partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter to educate local public health staff about dementia and the Road Map.