The Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the release of the annual update to the Department's National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, which for the first time includes a new goal focused on work being done to promote healthy aging and reduce the risks that may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
Although these diseases cannot yet be prevented, there is growing evidence that addressing certain risk factors for dementia, such as high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and depression, may lower the chances of developing the disease or delay its onset.
An estimated 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease or a related type of dementia. That number is expected to more than double by 2060 due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, making dementia a major public health issue as well as a challenge for the health care system and the economy. Further, the chance of developing dementia is not equal—Black and Latino Americans are more likely to develop the condition, as are women, and people with certain types of chronic diseases, like high blood pressure, diabetes or depression.
Under the plan's new goal, the federal government will accelerate research on risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and strengthen the infrastructure that is necessary to rapidly translate and disseminate information about risk factors, interventions to reduce the burden of risk factors, and related health promotion activities to health care providers, community-based providers, caregivers, and public health networks.
In addition to this year's added goal on healthy aging and risk reduction, the plan has five other existing ambitious goals to:
- Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias by 2025
- Enhance Care Quality and Efficiency
- Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias and Their Families
- Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement
- Improve Data to Track Progress