ALBANY – To help health authorities cope with the nation's Alzheimer's crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimer's Association have published the third edition of the Healthy Brain Initiative road map.
The report "National and Local Healthcare Partnerships Against Dementia, The Roadmap 2018-2023" aims to provide public health officials with strategies to achieve a better future for all demented populations.
"The Healthy Brain Initiative provides important information about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias," said Kim Blackstock, a volunteer Alzheimer's Association and lawyer from Tifton. "The roadmap not only provides much-needed education to the public, but also creates awareness of the Alzheimer's epidemic."
The Alzheimer's Continuum is decades old. During this time, healthcare professionals can reduce the risk, extend the early detection and diagnosis, improve the safety and quality of care for people with cognitive impairment, and care for the health and well-being of caregivers.
"Achieving significant progress against Alzheimer's requires an urgent public health response," said Robert Egge, senior political officer of the Alzheimer's Association, in a statement in the report. "The Roadmap provides public health care with concrete steps to move quickly and strategically to make necessary changes to policies, systems and environments."
In preparing the report, the experts developed 25 public health leaderships that should be tailored to the specific needs of individual communities, based on traditional public health strategies, so that leaders can integrate Alzheimer's patients into existing initiatives in the public health sector Field of public health.
Officials said that awareness of Alzheimer's or dementia in general is an important component. The disease often begins with the loss of memory and goes on until it becomes unable to cook, clean and socialize – and family members often notice these signs first.
"I am delighted that this new Roadmap contains learning tools for the general public and is very reader-friendly and easy to understand," said Blackstock. "Many people do not know about dementia or how to look after someone who suffers from dementia, and if a loved one or even even the diagnosis of a cognitive memory disorder is received, he can not go on. "
Early detection is a key problem. As with any disease, a previous intervention means a better quality of life, and wishes can be made known before the later stage of the disease. In a place like South Georgia, where resources for detection may be limited, this is not always easy.
"The Roadmap provides government and local authorities with tools to address the needs of the people of South Georgia," Blackstock said. "The map focuses heavily on the importance of early detection. At this point, we often see that people are not diagnosed until they are in the middle stage of the disease. Early detection ensures that a person can benefit more from certain medicines and plans for their future, especially legal and financial plans.
"The roadmap also includes resources for caregivers and the need for affordable recovery care that is currently lacking in South Georgia."
Data from the 2015 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that one in seven people over the age of 45 and over has experienced a subjective cognitive decline over the past 12 months. Fewer than half of respondents said they had discussed these changes with a health care provider.
"Alzheimer's is not a red or blue problem – it's a purple problem," said Kathy Simpson, director of public policy and advocacy for the chapter of the Alzheimer's Association in Georgia, in a statement. "It's about economic status, political ideology, race, culture. We have a vision of a world without Alzheimer's and that's what a village needs. The roadmap is key to ensuring that Georgia takes the necessary steps to develop systems that target care planning, health care and community services. It also supports the people living with Alzheimer's and other dementia patients while we continue to search for the cause and cure. "
The Georgia Department of Health's Health Planning Health Indicators Department said that in the 14 counties of the Southwest Public Health district in 2016, 157 and 206 died in 2017 due to Alzheimer's. The deaths in 2017 included 23 in Colquitt, 12 in Decatur, 50 in Dougherty, 10 in Grady, 18 in Lee, 18 in Mitchell, 10 in Terrell, 32 in Thomas and 15 in Worth County.
The citizens of southwestern Georgia, like many others in the country, live longer and the elderly are at higher risk for Alzheimer's. In rural areas, it is not uncommon for people in this age group to live on low income.
"We could use more and more resources and are grateful for the resources we have available," Dr. Cliff Dunn, family doctor at Phoebe Primary Care in Northwest. "With increasing aging, there will always be more.
"There is work in progress, but so far we have no cure. The best way to diagnose early. It is best to find it early so you can prepare for it (to make your wishes known). "
The DPH of the state is involved in the preparation of the state plan for Alzheimer's disease and related dementia in Georgia. As a result of the development of the plan, the Georgian Department of Human Services has taken over the years responsibility for the implementation of the system for recording the cognitive risk factor monitoring system and the care module.
Immediately after the adoption of the state plan, the government agencies and chapter created a video to provide information about Alzheimer's.
The Georgia Memory Net is in place, and the Alzheimer's Association said it was time to conduct a nationwide awareness campaign to ensure that every Georgian is educated about the disease. She calls on the General Assembly to fund this campaign, and to work for DPH and the State Plan Advisory Council of Georgia Alzheimer's and related Dementia, led by the State Department of Aging Services, to develop and conduct the campaign.
Dunn said that it is important for family members to speak out when they notice something, especially when they are in a region where resources are lacking and people are not in the doctor's office as often as they should.
Like Blackstock, he said that education is critical for detection, even for non-dementia physicians.
"If people do not know what they are looking for, they will not see it," Dunn said.
Phoebe is preparing to partner with Emory University and Georgia Memory Net. It will be a memory assessment clinic, with support and resources for patients and carers, including testing services and social workers. The resources are all available in one place, and based on the results of the assessment, an approach for the individual and the maintainer can be recommended.
Tina Halverson, specialist and administrator of the Phoebe Family Medicine residency program at Phoebe Primary Care in Northwest, said the program's first patients are expected to be admitted early next year.
"We are the fifth location selected for the establishment of this memory evaluation clinic," she said.
The Alzheimer's Association calls on the Advisory Council to update the state's plan to adopt and implement the latest edition of the Road Map.
"There is currently no real treatment or cure for Alzheimer's and other dementias," Blackstock said. "Every 66 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer's. Almost 6 million people in the United States today have Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, 14 million people are to be reached. Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive disease in America. The annual cost is over a quarter of a trillion dollars. In essence, this roadmap can help accelerate risk mitigation, accelerate early detection and diagnosis, and ensure the safety and quality of care for those suffering from the disease.
"I encourage everyone to look at the road map. You can find the Road Map of the Healthy Brain Initiative at www.cdc.gov. If you or your relative is suffering from any kind of dementia, I ask you to contact the Alzheimer's Association for help. You do not have to go through this alone. Please call 1-800-272-3900 for more information or visit www.alz.org. "
The report can also be found on the website of the Alzheimer Association.