New Road Map For Addressing Cognitive Health As A Public Health Issue
Today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alzheimer's Association unveiled The Healthy Brain Initiative: The Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013-2018 at the 2013 Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC 2013) in Boston.
The report encourages public health officials to act now to stem the growing Alzheimer's crisis and is a follow up to the 2007 The Healthy Brain Initiative: A National Public Health Road Map to Maintaining Cognitive Health.
"The public health community is now paying greater attention to the Alzheimer's epidemic that millions of families have been facing for decades and that is poised to drastically increase," said Robert Egge, Vice President of Public Policy at the Alzheimer's Association. "On the heels of the 2012 release of the country's first-ever National Alzheimer's Plan, the Alzheimer's Association and CDC have partnered again to create a tool for public health officials to improve the quality of life for those families and advance cognitive health as a integral component of public health."
The original Road Map addressed cognitive health and functioning from a public health perspective and provided a framework for the public health community to engage cognitive health, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. More than 280 experts in the field contributed to this new Road Map that outlines specific actions that state and local public health officials can take to promote cognitive functioning, address cognitive impairment for individuals living in the community and help meet the needs of caregivers. While federal agencies play a critical role in leading and funding efforts to address Alzheimer's disease, state and local agencies organize and provide public health services at the community level.
"The goal of the Healthy Brain Initiative is to enhance understanding of the public health burden of cognitive impairment, help build evidence-based communications and programs, and translate that foundation into effective public health practices in states and communities. This Road Map provides guidance to states, communities, and national partners to plan for and respond to this major public health issue," said Lynda Anderson, PhD, Director of the Healthy Aging Program at CDC.
The Road Map includes more than 30 action steps that the public health community can take at the federal, state and local levels over the next five years to address cognitive health and cognitive impairment from a public health perspective. The actions are intended as a guide for what state and local public health officials could do – on their own or with other national, state and local partners. Agencies are encouraged to select those actions that best fit state and local needs and customize them to match priorities, capabilities and resources.
Following are some of the action items, which fall under four topic areas, included in the Road Map:
Monitor and Evaluate
- Define the needs of caregivers and persons with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and younger onset, as they relate to employment and employers.
- Support state and local needs assessments to identify racial/ethnic; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; socioeconomic; and geographic disparities related to cognitive health and impairment.
Educate and Empower the Nation
- Promote advance care planning and advance financial planning to care partners, families, and individuals with dementia in the early stages before function declines.
- Identify and promote culturally appropriate strategies designed to increase public awareness about dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, to reduce conflicting messages, decrease stigma, and promote early diagnosis.
Develop Policies and Mobilize Partnerships
- Collaborate in the development, implementation, and maintenance of state Alzheimer's disease plans.
- Integrate cognitive health and impairment into state and local government plans (e.g. aging, coordinated chronic disease, preparedness, falls, and transportation plans).
Assure a Competent Workforce
- Develop strategies to help ensure that state public health departments have expertise in cognitive health and impairment related to research and best practices.
- Support continuing education efforts that improve healthcare providers' ability to recognize early signs of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, and to offer counselling to individuals and their care partners.
For more information on The Healthy Brain Initiative: The Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013-2018, visit alz.org/public health. For more information on Alzheimer's disease and the Alzheimer's Association, call 1-800-272-3900 or visit alz.org.