At the Department of Health and Welfare, we have a new and important program called Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). It is designed to increases awareness of risk-reduction and early-detection methods for Idahoans when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.
Alzheimer’s Disease, a common cause of dementia, is the seventh leading cause of death in Idaho, and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There are an estimated 6.2 million Americans, over the age of 65, currently living with this disease.
In 2020, there were 27,000 Idahoans over 65 living with Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to increase to 33,000 by 2025.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a debilitating condition that slowly destroys brain function, resulting in memory loss, behavior changes, and a decline in functional ability. This disease is not only devastating to the person, but also to the family members who provide the person’s financial, physical, and emotional care.
In 2020, Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluations recommended that Idaho help support families living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Idaho leaders knew they had to focus on this disease, as it is not only devastating to Idaho families, but it also increases the cost of community and residential care, healthcare, and the demand for formal and informal caregiver services.
In November 2021, an alliance of stakeholders (called ADRD Alliance) was formed to represent Idaho. One of the alliance’s pressing goals is to revise the 2013 state plan to help guide Idaho’s direction of addressing ADRD. The alliance charter was adopted this month.
In 2021, the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Steering Committee was formed and includes representatives from the Idaho Commission on Aging (ICOA), a geriatrician/subject matter expert from North Idaho, Alzheimer’s Association Greater Idaho Chapter, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Idaho, Idaho Caregiver Alliance (ICA), and Boise State University’s (BSU) Center for the Study of Aging (CSA). The steering committee provides the ADRD Alliance advice, support, and guidance as they progress with the revision of the 5-year state plan.
The department’s Division of Public Health also hired a team to make sure information and resources are available to those in Idaho who are caring for Idahoans living with Alzheimer’s Disease, that Idahoans are educated on the benefits of early detection and risk-reduction methods, and that Idaho is working to address ADRD and brain health as a united front. At present, the team is developing strategies for outreach, collaborative efforts, and public health education and awareness campaigns.
Currently, Boise State University is working with the department to assess Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias in Idaho. A few specific areas of focus are rural clinic response to ADRD, how higher educational institutions are preparing healthcare teams to interact with ADRD, and what resources or supports are available or unavailable in our communities across the state. The results of this assessment will be used to develop a five-year plan as well as guide initiatives and programs.
I am grateful for the team at DHW working to support those living with Alzheimer’s Disease and to the Idaho Legislature for their support as we all serve Idahoans.
You can find more information on Alzheimer’s Disease and the department’s program on our website:
- Disease specific - https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/health-wellness/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease-and-related-dementias
- ADRD Alliance - https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/about-dhw/boards-councils-committees/idaho-alzheimers-disease-and-related-dementias-adrd-alliance
I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend.