Building Blocks for Addressing the Dementia Crisis: Collaborative Solutions and Initiatives


The rising incidence of dementia and its toll on families is one piece of a significant domino effect on public health. As a caregiver for both my parents affected by dementia, I can say firsthand that there are no words to describe the emotional and physical price of this journey. I want to explore the broader crisis we face: the cost to our communities, public health, health systems, and the stakeholders who are all invested in this space.

First, let's face the reality: the looming aging tsunami, as it has been referred to for decades, is here. It is no longer a futuristic term. With this in mind, planning is accelerating into action at the federal, state, and local levels.

The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act was passed into law on December 31, 2018, by the CDC. The activities outlined in BOLD (Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure) are designed to create a uniform national public health infrastructure focusing on issues such as increasing early detection and diagnosis, risk reduction, prevention of avoidable hospitalizations, and supporting dementia caregiving. It is designed to promote implementation of the CDC's Healthy Brain Initiative State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map and the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map for Indian Country.

Another federal initiative, the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP), aims to improve health outcomes for older adults by developing a healthcare workforce that maximizes patient and family engagement, and by integrating geriatrics and primary care. The goals of this program are to: 1) educate and train the primary care and geriatrics workforce to care for older adults in integrated geriatrics and primary care models, and 2) partner with community-based organizations (CBOs) to address gaps in healthcare for older adults, promote Age-Friendly health systems and dementia-friendly communities, and address the social determinants of health.

These two powerful initiatives are strong building blocks in moving the needle towards better public health outcomes for older adults affected by dementia.

Key Building Block Partners

Health Plans and Health Systems: According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly one-quarter of all hospitalizations of people with dementia are preventable — at a cost to Medicare of nearly $4.7 billion in 2013 ($6 billion in 2022 dollars). Further, 95% of people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias have at least one other chronic condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke. Alzheimer's complicates the management of these chronic conditions, resulting in poorer health outcomes and increased healthcare costs.

Alzheimer's affects more than just the individual with the disease: More than 11 million family and friends provide an estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care annually.

Age and Dementia Friendly Initiatives: Dementia-friendly initiatives (DFI) are community-based movements aimed to address stigma, exclusion, and discrimination associated with dementia. The movement is gaining steam across the US and globally, as stakeholders see the need for strong collaborative partnerships to address the challenges unique to each community.

Collaborating with key community stakeholders, such as the Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, local chapters of the Alzheimer's Associations, and other private and public partnerships are creating innovative models for success with strong outcomes.

Aging Service Providers: The vast network of senior living communities, home care, hospice and others in the long term care space are embracing dementia partnerships with community based organizations. "We're all in this together" is a theme more prevalent now than ever - and it is and will domino effect that continues to drive positive change in addressing the dementia crisis.

Explore how AGE-u-cate Training Institute is partnering with federal, state and local dementia initiatives to create successful building blocks.  

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