Nearly all of us know someone that is touched by the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease. You may find some comfort to know that there is a National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease with a 2014 update released by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The 2014 Plan includes the following five goals: finding ways to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025; enhancing care for Alzheimer’s patients; expanding support for people with dementia and their families; improving public awareness; and carefully tracking data to support these efforts.
“Since 2012, we have made strides in our fight against dementia under the framework of the National Plan,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “We continue to strive to reduce the burden of these conditions on people, their families, and our health care system.”
The update reflects the nation’s progress toward accomplishing goals set in 2012 and current action steps to achieving them. The 2011 National Alzheimer’s Project Act calls for all Plans to be updated annually; the 2014 Plan follows the initial Plan released in May 2012 and an updated Plan released in June 2013. The 2014 Plan was developed with input from experts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease from federal, state, private and non-profit organizations, as well as caregivers and people with the disease.
Highlights during the past year include:
- Identification of 11 Alzheimer’s risk genes, providing new insights about disease pathways and possible drug targets;
- Training and support to more than 23,000 health care providers on dementia;
- Focused and coordinated public-private efforts that reduced the inappropriate use of antipsychotics among long-stay nursing home residents with dementia by nearly 14 percent; and
- Funding to states for development of dementia-capable long-term services and supports systems.
Action Steps: The 2014 Plan also identifies the following action steps led by HHS to better research, treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease:
- Acceleration of efforts to identify the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease and to develop and test targets for intervention;
- Move research and care forward by increasing collaboration in science, data sharing, and priority setting among Alzheimer’s disease experts, health care providers and caregivers;
- Expansion of current work to strengthen dementia-care guidelines and quality measures, including meaningful outcomes for people with dementia and their families;
- Help for health care providers to better address ethical considerations related to caring for people with dementia, including how to balance privacy, autonomy and safety; and
- Enhance support for global collaboration on dementia, including hosting a February 2015 follow-up meeting to the December 2013 G8 Summit on Dementia.
“The scientific opportunities in research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have never been greater,” said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. “We have made important discoveries about factors influencing development of the disease and in 2014, based on what we have learned, will focus on building and testing interventions that can make a difference.”
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alzheimers.gov.
To read the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease: 2014 Update, visit http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/napa/NatlPlan2014.shtml.
Source: US Department of Health & Human Services, News Release – April 29, 2014