Currently, about 70 percent of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias live in community settings, with an estimated one-quarter of them living alone. A common preference for persons with dementia is to remain as engaged and independent for as long as possible, but in order to do so safely, communities must be attuned to the unique needs of people living with dementia.

Primed for implementation: HBI Road Map

Action M-3 — Use data gleaned through available surveillance strategies and other sources to inform the public health program and policy response to cognitive health, impairment and caregiving.

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The establishment of dementia-friendly communities is a growing movement in the U.S. and around the world. The movement mobilizes government, businesses and civic groups to form a coalition and pledge to actively make changes to support people living with dementia and their caregivers. State and local public health organizations are uniquely positioned to become coalition partners and to help evaluate progress.

These supportive changes help build a capable and compassionate community that is attuned to the needs of people with cognitive impairment. Dementia-capable communities promote a wide range of support and engagement including reliable access to public transportation, training on effective communication techniques for community members to interact with people with dementia, and opportunities for those with cognitive impairment to be involved in community life. Public health can also lead dementia-capable coalitions to analyze the community needs of people living with dementia and their caregivers, change neighborhood environments, and mobilize partners to better support people affected by dementia.

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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

National Indian Health Board For Sharing with Healthcare Providers and Public Health Professionals
National Alzheimer's and Dementia Resource Center Dementia-Capable States and Communities: The Basics
Health Resources and Services Administration Training Curriculum: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
National Alzheimer's and Dementia Resource Center Dementia-capable States and Communities: the Basics

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AL Department of Public Health Alabama Department of Public Health had one of its divisions, Alabama Public Health Training Network, conduct a webcast for public health professionals about Alzheimer’s basics, with a free CEU available for state employees. Almost 200 people participated, and the recorded training is posted on YouTube.
CA California Department of Public Health Issued six competitive grants of $750,000 each to local health departments to implement actions of the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Maps - the local health departments funded are: Shasta, Placer, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and San Diego
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.
IN Boone County Boone County integrates provisions to reduce Alzheimer’s and dementia-related mortality in community health improvement plan
LA Louisiana Department of Health Assessed the awareness, experiences and training needs of Baton Rouge Police Department staff with respect to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, especially in regards to wandering behaviors; the assessment also included an educational component.
LA Department of Health Louisiana Department of Health conducted a workshop for its employees on advance care and advance financial planning.
MA City of Boston City of Boston includes dementia specific-recommendations to improve care and support throughout the city.
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.
ME Bangor Public Health and Community Services Department Bangor Public Health & Community Services invited Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter staff to an in-person meeting to educate its employees on how to prepare for the Alzheimer’s public health crisis, with an emphasis on early detection, early diagnosis and other Healthy Brain Initiative action items.
MN Minnesota Department of Health Informed efforts to make communities more supportive of people living with dementia and their caregivers by integrating cognitive and caregiver surveillance data and related resources into county fact sheets; MDH prioritized counties that have a high proportion of at-risk older adults.
MN Benton, Sherburne, and Stearns Countie County public health departments are developing a guide for employers on how to integrate dementia awareness and education, plus caregiver support, into worksite wellness programs
MO Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services adjusted level of care assessment for Medicaid in-home services to better meet the needs of people living with dementia
MS Department of Mental Health Mississippi Department of Mental Health included dementia-specific considerations for improving access to care for those with Alzheimer’s.
NM Department of Health New Mexico Department of Health conducted a symposium on the public health aspects of Alzheimer’s at the New Mexico Public Health Association’s annual meeting.
NM Department of Health New Mexico Department of Public Health’s September 2016 Employee Wellness newsletter (sent to 3,200 state employees) focused on healthy aging. It included basic information on education and support for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; the link between healthy lifestyle and brain health, with encouragement to use the ACL Brain Health Resource toolkit; and advance care planning (general).
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 State Department of Health New York State Department of Health joined the Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance and is providing extensive training for employees on Alzheimer’s and caregiving in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. As a first step, department leaders posted an article on its intranet to announce this new effort, and the article will be shared with other NY state agencies to encourage them to join as well.
OR Department of Human Services Oregon Public Health Division hosted a symposium for state and local public health officials on intersection of public health and Alzheimer’s.
OR Oregon Health Authority Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon published ¡Unidos Podemos! Enfrentando la pérdida de memoria en familia, a fotonovela for Spanish-speaking community members on caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. The Oregon Department of Human Services, Alzheimer's Association Oregon Chapter, and Oregon Health Authority now promote and distribute the fotonovela to Spanish-speaking communities and public health networks.
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.
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.
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 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.
WI Chippewa County Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership sets out to create a dementia-friendly community.