Community and public health professionals play a key role in providing critical information and resources for families and people living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, while also raising awareness throughout their communities and among at-risk populations. Learn more below about the role of community and public health professionals in dementia services and about related federal government support and tools.
Alzheimer’s and related dementias affect many people — more than 5 million Americans 65 and older are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is projected to increase. In addition, many people have other forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia, either alone or more commonly in the form of mixed dementia.
Some communities may be affected more than others, due to race, ethnicity, environment, or other risk factors. Community and public health professionals provide resources and support specific to the communities they serve.
Several types of community and public health professionals may be involved with providing services and support to people with dementia. These include:
- Public health practitioners who serve on the front lines of federal, state, and local health departments
- Community health advisors, advocates, and volunteers who function as bridges between individuals, communities, health care systems, public health organizations, and social service agencies
- First responders, such as emergency medical services, firefighters, and police officers
- Professional caregivers, who may provide in-home assistance or long-term care services
- Health educators
- Faith-based leaders
- Social workers and case managers, who provide advice, care consultation, information, and referrals
These professionals may be in the home, health departments, retirement and assisted living communities, nonprofit organizations, or community-based aging services organizations.
Community and public health professionals can provide resources to people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias in a number of different ways. Their role may be to discuss health concerns, provide social support and care, or assist in accessing dementia services and programs to improve quality of life for people with dementia and their families.
For the broader community, these professionals may engage in outreach to develop and share information and resources about dementia and care options. They also may organize programs to help promote healthy living and combat potential risk factors of dementia.
In 2012, the federal government launched the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease in an effort to prevent future cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and to better meet the needs of families currently facing those diseases. As part of this plan, the federal government is investing in evidence-based programs and services to help support people with dementia and their families, optimize care quality and efficiency, and enhance public awareness and engagement. Efforts include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative. Through this initiative, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) provides resources for states and community-based organizations to develop and implement person-centered services and supports, as well as partnerships with public and private entities. The aim is to identify and address the unique needs of people with dementia and their caregivers.
- National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center. Funded by the Administration on Aging within ACL, this center provides technical assistance to states and organizations participating in its Alzheimer’s and related dementias grant programs. It also offers issue briefs, webinars, and toolkits that are available to all, and includes resources such as Faith-Related Programs in Dementia Care, Support, and Education and a Guide for Professionals on Practical Strategies for Persons with Dementia Living Alone.
- Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence and Public Health Programs. Led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these centers provide funds to support public health departments to help implement effective Alzheimer’s interventions and provide education for public health officials, health care professionals, and the public on Alzheimer’s, brain health, and health disparities. The overall aim is to create a uniform national public health infrastructure to address dementia and promote implementation of the CDC Healthy Brain Initiative.
- Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI). Through this CDC initiative, the federal government creates and supports partnerships, collects and reports data, increases awareness of brain health, supports populations with a high burden of Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and promotes the use of its Road Map series to address dementia. The series provides practical steps for state and local public health officials and for Indian Country, or tribal agencies, to promote brain health, better care for people with cognitive impairment, and increase attention to caregivers. The goal is to improve understanding of brain health as a central part of public health practice.
- Public Health and Dementia Trainings. The CDC’s Alzheimer’s disease public health curriculum, in support of its HBI, is designed for use by undergraduate faculty to increase awareness of the impact of dementia and introduce a public health approach to help address it. Another HBI-related training course is designed to support public health agencies in identifying priorities and taking action toward improving dementia and caregiving needs.
- Alzheimer's and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. NIA’s ADEAR Center provides information for people with dementia, their families, caregivers, and health professionals. The goal is to educate the public about the latest research findings by providing evidence-based information online, in print, and through its call center.
Information and tools are available that can help you provide services for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
The federal government is committed to finding ways to treat and prevent dementia and to provide better care for people with dementia and their families.
Explore the resources on this website and linked below to find more information from federal government agencies.
Access free clinical practice tools, information on cognitive screening tests, training materials, and more resources for physicians, nurses, social workers, and other professionals.
Explore free publications from NIA on Alzheimer’s and related dementias, caregiving, and healthy aging. Also available in Spanish.
Learn about Alzheimer’s and related dementias, treatment and management, and providing care for someone with dementia. Also available in Spanish.
Access webinars and training, reports and toolkits, dementia capability assessment tools, and planning guides to expand the availability of community-level supportive services for people with dementia and their caregivers.
Download a list of training resources that address how to recognize, understand, and meet the unique needs of people with dementia, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who live alone, and their caregivers.
Download a document that provides background and strategies for identifying and providing services to individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and dementia or who are at risk of developing dementia.
View a presentation that highlights personal experiences, advocacy efforts, and helpful practices for working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and dementia.
Access a free introductory curriculum to increase awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and the role of public health.
Find evidence-based research and scientific resources to help educate and inform people about Alzheimer’s and healthy aging, including publications, data and statistics, podcasts and videos, and training for health professionals.
Find out what you can do to help reduce the impact of dementia in your community.
Navigate to Alzheimer’s information, programs, road maps, and other resources.
Learn about an education and training action agenda from the CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative to help educate and inform professionals about Alzheimer’s and related dementias, cognitive issues, and dementia caregiving.
Find information on steps to promote brain health, address cognitive impairment, and address the needs of caregivers.
Learn about the ways CMS is improving dementia care through research, training, and revised guidance for surveyors of health facilities.
Access free training and educational materials for students, primary care practitioners, geriatricians, direct service workers, and health professionals.
View these webinars from IHS covering topics such as diagnosis, treatment, and support, as well as keeping elders in the home and resources for caregivers’ health. Use keywords such as “dementia” to search for webinar topics.
Get free publications from NINDS on dementia. Also available in Spanish.
Questions? Contact the ADEAR Center
The Alzheimer’s & related Dementias Education & Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Call 800-438-4380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk with an information specialist.
This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.