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

  • 110,000 people aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s in Washington.
  • 11.1 percent of people aged 45 and older have subjective cognitive decline.
  • 341,000 family caregivers bear the burden of the disease in Washington.
  • 389 million hours of unpaid care provided by Alzheimer’s caregivers.
  • $4.9 billion is the value of the unpaid care.
  • $497 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 Washington: Alzheimer’s Statistics, Cognitive Decline

Public health spotlight

In Washington, the Department of Health educated African American women about cognitive health — including education on potential risk reduction activities — by partnering with the Center for MultiCultural Health to tailor and disseminate brain health messages throughout the African American community.

Explore the issues in-depth

Find resources and examples to drive action on 11 Alzheimer’s-specific public health issues.

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State plan overview

In March 2014, Governor Jay Inslee signed Substitute Senate Bill 6124 charging the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to convene a prescribed membership for an Alzheimer's Disease Working Group (ADWG) to develop a Washington State Plan to address Alzheimer’s disease. The working group contains stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds, including professional and unpaid caregivers, persons with Alzheimer’s disease and experts from many different parts of the medical field. SSB 6124 did not provide designated funding, so DSHS stretched existing funding and resources to meet the legislative requirement. $110,000 of federal Older Americans Act Administrative funds were used to fund facilitator and meeting costs. The Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias was published in January 2016. Leading the charge to implement the plan is the Dementia Action Collaborative — a group of public-private partners committed to preparing Washington State for the growth of the dementia population. Four agency staff members — housed within the Department of Health, the Health Care Authority and the Department of Social and Health Services — support the work of the Dementia Action Collaborative.

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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State Department of Health With the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, the Washington State Department of Health tested University of Pennsylvania media messages with Asian American adults who may have concerns about changes in their aging parents’ memory or cognition.

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BRFSS + Cognitive Decline

Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Washington (2016)
Alzheimer's Association Fact Sheet: Cognitive Decline in Washington (2011)