In 2015, the Utah State Legislature declared Alzheimer’s a public health issue, directing the Utah Department of Health to coordinate and implement the state’s response to this growing crisis.
The most recent data show:

  • 31,000 people aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s in Utah.
  • 9.6 percent of people aged 45 and older have subjective cognitive decline.
  • 152,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease in Utah.
  • 173 million hours of unpaid care provided by Alzheimer’s caregivers.
  • $2.2 billion is the value of the unpaid care.
  • $160 million is the cost of Alzheimer’s to the state Medicaid program.
These numbers show that a public health approach is necessary to lessen the burden and enhance the quality of life for those living with cognitive impairment and their families.

Learn more about Utah: Alzheimer’s Statistics, Cognitive Decline, Dementia Caregiving


Public health spotlight 

In Utah, the Department of Health undertook a concentrated effort to improve early detection of cognitive impairment. After surveying health care providers, the Department of Health conducted specific outreach to all primary care physicians, providing educational materials and a list of recommended cognitive assessment tools to improve health care providers’ ability to recognize the early warning signs of dementia. Improving early detection and diagnosis of dementia is a recommended action in both the Utah State Plan for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias as well as the Healthy Brain Initiative State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map.

Read the full case study for additional information.

Explore core areas

Find public health resources and examples that drive action across Alzheimer's-specific core areas.

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State plan overview

In March 2011, Utah legislature passed Senate Bill 48 establishing the Utah State Plan Task Force within the Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services. Tasked with assessing the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias within the state, the Task Force included representatives from state agencies, homecare providers, health plans and elder law, as well as state legislators, an individual living with the disease, caregivers and the lieutenant governor. After collecting public feedback, the Task Force published Utah’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: Action Plan for 2012-2017 in January 2012. In early 2018, Utah updated their plan, releasing Utah's State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias, 2018 to 2022.

Resources for action

State and local public health agencies around the country are taking action against Alzheimer’s by implementing the Healthy Brain Initiative State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map. Public health practitioners can learn by example and find resources to help guide their response below.  

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Implementation

Utah Department of Health Executive Director of the Department of Health sent a Dear Colleague letter to all health care providers licensed in the state, encouraging them to conduct cognitive assessments as part of the Annual Wellness Visit. The letter also provides links to community resources.
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.
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.
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.
Department of Health Utah Department of Health report includes Alzheimer’s disease death rate
Department of Health Developing dementia-related competencies of primary care providers and non-health workforces across the continuum of care through Dementia Dialogues.
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.
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.
Department of Health Utah Department of Health is working with local Alzheimer’s Association chapters and community groups to make St. George, Utah, a dementia-friendly community.
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).
Department of Health Utah Department of Health posted an Alzheimer’s Association anti-smoking message on the Facebook page of its Quitline campaign.
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.

 
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Resources

Featured Resources

Utah Department of Health Dear Colleague Letter on Early Detection (UT)

BRFSS + Cognitive Decline

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Utah (2016)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Cognitive Decline in Utah (2016)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Utah (2015)
Alzheimer's Association Infographic: Cognitive Decline in Utah (2015)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Utah (2011)

BRFSS + Caregivers

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Dementia Caregiving in Utah (2017)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Dementia Caregiving in Utah (2016)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Caregiving in Utah (2016)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Dementia Caregiving in Utah (2015)

Additional Resources

Utah Department of Health Dear Colleague Letter on Early Detection (UT)