Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health crisis in South Carolina. The impact of Alzheimer’s is projected to rise, and the most recent data show:

  • 95,000 people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in South Carolina.
  • 11.5% of people aged 45 and older have subjective cognitive decline.
  • 197,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease in South Carolina.
  • 296 million hours of unpaid care provided by Alzheimer’s caregivers.
  • $4.3 billion is the value of the unpaid care.
  • $652 million 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 South Carolina: Alzheimer’s Statistics, Cognitive Decline, Dementia Caregiving

Public health spotlight

In South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control developed and promoted a brain health awareness campaign — Take Brain Health to Heart — to increase the public’s understanding of brain health and ways to protect cognition. The campaign was updated in early 2020.

In September 2021, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control received a  Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Program Award. The BOLD program is updating and expanding the Take Brain Health to Heart campaign and corresponding website. Read the case study and view the full campaign.

Explore public health action against Alzheimer’s

Learn more about areas essential to addressing Alzheimer's from a public health perspective.

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State plan overview

In June 2008, the South Carolina General Assembly created the Purple Ribbon Task Force through passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 1333 to study the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease within the state, assess resources for those impacted by Alzheimer’s, and develop a strategy to meet the needs of South Carolinians. Housed in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, the Purple Ribbon Task Force included representatives from state health and aging agencies, law enforcement, research institutions, long-term care agencies as well as health care providers and state legislators. Drawing on the multidisciplinary representation of its members, the Task Force published Conquering the Specter of Alzheimer’s Disease in South Carolina in March 2009.

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.

South Carolina Implementation
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South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control BRFSS Coordinator analyzed the 2015 Cognitive Decline data from the state to assess association, if any, with residence in a rural county. Also examined the potential association between cognitive decline and smoking. The Coordinator submitted an abstract for consideration to the South Carolina Association of Public Health's annual meeting.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Dept. of Health and Environmental Control developed a ‘Take Brain Health to Heart’ webpage with information, tools, and other resources about brain health. As part of the state’s brain health campaign, the department and partners developed a set of PSAs to promote the new webpage and educate the public.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is integrating messages about brain health into existing health education campaigns.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control worked with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter to distribute 48,000 of the association’s Know the 10 Signs brochures through its regional offices to raise awareness, especially among African Americans.

 
South Carolina Resources
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Risk Factors + Risk Reduction

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Subjective Cognitive Decline in South Carolina

Caregivers + BRFSS

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Caregiving in South Carolina

BRFSS + Cognitive Decline

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Subjective Cognitive Decline in South Carolina (2019)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Subjective Cognitive Decline in South Carolina (2019)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in South Carolina (2015)
Alzheimer's Association Infographic: Cognitive Decline in South Carolina (2015)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in South Carolina (2011)

BRFSS + Caregivers

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Dementia Caregiving in South Carolina (2015)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Caregiving in South Carolina (2015)

Care and Advance Planning

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Infographic: Subjective Cognitive Decline in South Carolina