The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) publicized its 5-year state plan last week to mitigate the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).
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The Colorado ADRD State Plan complements policy recommendations outlined in a Colorado Health Institute report and incorporates guidance from the CDC’s roadmap on effective public health actions to address the modifiable factors and systemic barriers that can impact ADRD.
The plan prioritizes Indigenous, Black, and Latinx populations, which have been disproportionately impacted by ADRD. The plan cites that these groups have a higher prevalence of modifiable risk factors and experience barriers to diagnosis, care, services, and support.
“This plan represents an important roadmap for helping us to reduce the impacts of these devastating conditions across the state,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of CDPHE. “We are committed to working with our community partners to empower Coloradans to make informed decisions and to provide the best possible care for their loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s.”
CDPHE received federal funds in 2020 from the Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act to support the development of a public health infrastructure to address dementia in Colorado. The department has been using this to fund an inclusive, community-informed process that informed the creation of the new ADRD State Plan.
CDPHE consulted with 16 public, private, government, healthcare, community-based, and nonprofit organizations to inform the plan. Drawing on input from the ADRD Advisory Committee and community stakeholders, CDPHE built a representative coalition that will develop and implement ADRD mitigation strategies in 4 public health domains: public awareness, policy reform, workforce competency, and public health monitoring/evaluation. The strategies will focus on risk reduction and early diagnosis for priority populations.
The number of Coloradans aged 65 or older living with ADRD is expected to rise from more than 76,000 to 92,000 by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. The Association says the state’s plan serves not only those affected by the disease but providers who care for them.
“The plan includes a needed public education component to help families recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s, realizing that half of all cases of Alzheimer’s are never diagnosed,” the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado told State of Reform. “To that end, the plan also will include educational components for physicians and healthcare providers. Getting a proper diagnosis is the first step in helping the family understand the disease and its progression so that they can provide the necessary care to keep their loved one safe while planning for the future.
Finally, the plan will help raise awareness of critical resources that are available at no charge to families through the Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations. These resources can provide meaningful help and relief, both for the person living with the diagnosis as well as loved ones who provide care around the clock.”