WASHINGTON, D.C. — In May the Department of Health and Human Services launched its month-long celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was first released in May 2012 as part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. The National Plan outlines six ambitious goals including: (1) identifying effective treatments and preventive interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), (2) enhancing the quality of care, (3) expanding supports for people with ADRD and their caregivers, (4) expanding public awareness, (5) improving data and measurement, and (6) reducing the risk of developing ADRD by promoting healthy aging. Through the National Plan, HHS has and will continue to help improve the trajectory of ADRD research, and support people living with dementia and their caregivers. In addition to shaping federal efforts, the National Plan has served as a model for ADRD state plans across the country.
“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can be devastating for people with the condition and their families,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The National Plan has given us a framework for collaborating, innovating, and accelerating work on these diseases over the past 10 years. But we mark this anniversary milestone not to stop, but to accelerate momentum on ADRD work even more. Moving forward, we are especially focused on meeting the needs of a growing and diversifying older population by improving care and services of Black and Latino populations that are disproportionately affected by dementia.”
HHS is commemorating the Anniversary through a series of publications and presentations highlighting the Department’s accomplishments in addressing ADRD, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Administration for Community Living (ACL), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Indian Health Service (IHS), and other HHS agencies. HHS will also sponsor a state policy roundtable to hear from state leaders about their work to address ADRD. All events and materials will be shared on the 10th Anniversary HHS page.
In the past 10 years, HHS and federal partners have, with the support of Congress, made great strides in the treatment and diagnosis of ADRD as well as championed new supports for individuals living with ADRD and their caregivers. These accomplishments include:
Training: From Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-2020, through the Geriatrics Education Centers and Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Programs, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provided 5,383 interprofessional educational offerings on dementia to 687,048 trainees.
Research: NIH spending on ADRD research increased nearly 4.5-fold from FY 2015 ($631 million) to FY 2020 ($2.87 billion), substantially expanding basic and clinical research including on drug and non-drug interventions, the impact of care for people living with dementia and their caregivers, health disparities, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded multiple grants to improve dementia care and conducted Evidence-based Practice Center reviews to inform the diagnosis and management of people living with dementia and their caregivers as well as to inform research agenda development.
Improving Healthcare: In partnership with ACL, CDC, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS Office of Women’s Health, and the Veterans Administration (VA), HRSA created a unified primary care dementia curriculum for healthcare professionals and caregivers. CMS, NIH, and HRSA collaborated to identify screening tools for Medicare’s Annual Wellness Visit. ACL’s ADRD programs are active in 38 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to build and implement dementia-capable long-term services and supports systems.
Enhanced Public Awareness and Engagement: HHS agencies have launched major awareness campaigns including: Alzheimers.gov, a federal government portal to information and resources on ADRD, and CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative, which improves understanding of brain health as a central part of public health practice. A new Healthy Brain Resource Center (cdc.gov) was launched in 2022.
Promoting Equity in Diagnosis and Treatment: The VA Geriatric Scholars Program partners with IHS to offer Rural Interdisciplinary Team Training (RITT) to Tribal facilities in rural areas. IHS trains providers and provides care for Native Americans with dementia and their caregivers through Tribal and Urban Indian Health programs. The AHRQ, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institute on Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) are also funding multiple research grants related to addressing disparities in ADRD care and services.
Supporting Caregivers: The VA has several initiatives focused on caregiving, including the Caring for Older Adults and Caregivers at Home (COACH) program – awarded a Gold Status practice by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Diffusion of Excellence – and the Annie Caregiver Text Program/Protocol (behavior management and caregiver coping skills).
Reducing Risk: Although a 6th goal on ADRD risk reduction was added in 2021, federal agencies have long been working on reducing ADRD related risks as they also relate to healthy aging. For example, controlling hypertension can reduce the occurrence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). NIH’s Mind Your Risks® campaign educates people with, or at risk of, high blood pressure about the importance of taking charge of their health to lower their risk of stroke and dementia. Similarly, CDC created helpful lists on how to prevent and manage hypertension.