Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health crisis in Massachusetts. Without an effective treatment or cure, the impact of Alzheimer’s will continue to rise and the numbers in Massachusetts are escalating.
The most recent data show:

  • 130,000 people aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s in Massachusetts.
  • 9.3% of people aged 45 and older have subjective cognitive decline.
  • 340,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease in Massachusetts.
  • 387 million hours of unpaid care provided by Alzheimer’s caregivers.
  • $5.1 billion is the value of the unpaid care.
  • $1.7 billion 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 Massachusetts: Alzheimer’s Statistics, Cognitive Decline

Public health spotlight

Explore core areas

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

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In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health is charged with improving health outcomes among individuals living with dementia who stay in acute-care settings.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) regularly issues guidance to all hospitals to develop plans for disclosing a dementia diagnosis to people living with dementia and their families. MA DPH is also charged with ensuring clinicians receive dementia training conditional to licensing.

State plan overview

In 2010, Governor Patrick Deval directed the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, to draft a state plan addressing Alzheimer’s disease within the state. In response, these two agencies convened an Advisory Committee that included families and individuals impacted by the disease as well as representatives from state and local health and human services agencies, councils on aging, academia, public safety agencies and professional caregiver associations. Gathering public input, the Advisory Committee published the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders State Plan in February 2012.

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

City of Boston City of Boston includes dementia specific-recommendations to improve care and support throughout the city.
Boston Public Health Commission Boston Public Health Commission released report including dementia measure
Department of Public Health Massachusetts Department of Public Health—with the regional chapter of the National Black Nurses Association and potentially other organizations—held a community educational event that raised African Americans’ awareness of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive health issues.

 
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Resources

BRFSS + Cognitive Decline

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Massachusetts (2016)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Cognitive Decline in Massachusetts (2016)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Massachusetts (2013)