Sharing Ideas on a Strategic Plan for Alzheimer's Disease

Aug 3, 2011, 6:02 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

The recent annual meeting of the National Association of County and City Health Officials devoted several sessions to the value of community engagement and partnerships in improving the public’s health. Partners, session attendees learned, can provide valuable input including funding, manpower and novel ideas.

This month the Alzheimer’s Association is taking the community engagement concept on the road. The association has been holding “public input sessions,” inviting stakeholders from the Alzheimer's community and the public to share their views on what a national Alzheimer's plan should include. A report compiled from the sessions’ feedback will be sent to Congress and to Federal agencies as part of the National Action Plan on Alzheimer’s mandated by Congress earlier this year.

The law requires a national strategic plan to address Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. and the numbers show why the effort is so crucial:

  • An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease
  • By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's and the cost of care will surpass $1 trillion annually
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. – and the only top 10 cause of death with no known way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression.

The strategic plan must include recommendations for priority actions to both improve health outcomes for individuals with Alzheimer’s and lower costs to families and government programs, as well as an annual evaluation of all federally funded efforts in Alzheimer’s research, care and services.

“By making Alzheimer’s a national priority, we have the potential to create the same success that has been demonstrated in the fights against other diseases,” says Lisa Dorman, associate director , public relations, of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Leadership from the federal government has helped lower the number of deaths from other major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, influenza and pneumonia, and stroke.”

Dorfman says the action plan will allow Congress to assess whether the nation is meeting the challenges of this disease for families, communities and the economy.

Suggestions also can be contributed online: http://napa.alz.org/share-your-feedback

Weigh In: Does your community have an innovative project to help families coping with Alzheimer’s Disease?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.