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Increase Public Awareness, Early Detection And Diagnosis
Make Alzheimer's a Public Health Priority in Colorado
Alzheimer’s and dementia is a growing public health crisis in Colorado. The burden of the disease in our state is large and growing larger. Currently, an estimated 73,000 Coloradans are living with the disease, which is expected to rise to 92,000 by the year 2025 – a 26 percent increase over the next five years. Caring for these individuals has a significant impact on our state. In 2019, the cost of providing care to these individuals through Medicaid was $596 million and is expected to increase by 30.9 percent by 2025. However, the current version of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE’S) Chronic Disease State Plan our Public Health Department does not include any information on Alzheimer’s or dementia. Including this information can allow CDPHE to more effectively prioritize resources and funding to lessen the impact of this public health crisis. The first step in addressing Alzheimer’s in Colorado is for our state public health leaders to include it in the next update of the Colorado Chronic Disease State Plan.
Build a Dementia-Capable Workforce
Build a Dementia-Capable Workforce
A crucial factor in delivering quality long-term care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in any care setting is the availability of staff equipped to manage the unique challenges of dementia and the needs of those who are living with it. This is important to people living with dementia because they are more than twice as likely to require home health care as individuals without dementia. As the disease progresses, individuals are unable to complete activities of daily living without assistance. Over time, people with dementia will lose the ability to use words and may communicate their needs through behavior, which presents added challenges for direct care workers. Dementia-specific training provides staff with the tools they need to care for the individual adequately and enables them to de-escalate behavioral situations before they turn into crises. Adequate dementia training can also help minimize the stress and frustration experienced by the person with dementia, improving their quality of life. To make the greatest positive impact on the lives of both Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and caregivers, Colorado should require competency-based dementia training of all direct service, administrative, supervisory, and other staff who come in contact with dementia patients.
Increase Access to Home and Community-Based Services
Support Alzheimer's Caregivers
Roughly 252,000 Coloradans are providing unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. They enable most of the 73,000 people living with dementia to live in the community, instead of moving into costly facilities. These numbers are set to increase by 26 percent within the next decade. Respite care provides a much-needed break for family caregivers. This time off allows them to take care of their personal medical issues, complete tasks outside of the home, or simply enjoy time off from the demands of caregiving. However, the need for respite services is larger than the availability of respite care providers. We must find new, innovative methods of attracting and training non-traditional workers to respite care to meet the growing demand for respite services -- especially for caregivers of Alzheimer's or other dementias.
Advance Alzheimer's Policy
Better Coordinate Our State's Response to Dementia
Today, numerous state agencies administer a variety of programs critical to people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, such as Medicaid, respite care, adult protective services, health professional and facility quality standards (licensure), financial exploitation prevention, falls and chronic disease prevention, public health and Silver Alert, among others. However, those efforts are often siloed, with multiple state agencies working separately from each other. The key to ensuring effective programs for Coloradans with dementia and their caregivers is better coordination among state agencies. A single state employee could ensure coordination of dementia programs and policies across state agencies, with the goals of reducing the long-term impact of the disease on the state budget, preventing duplication of services, identifying service gaps, and facilitating access to quality, coordinated care.
Advance Alzheimer's Policy
Establish a Statewide Office of Public Guardianship
Right now, Colorado is one of only fourteen states in the U.S. that does not have a statewide Office of Public Guardianship. The role of this office is to ensure that some of Colorado’s most vulnerable individuals receive adequate care in the most appropriate setting. The Office would serve adults who cannot make decisions regarding their well-being (due to a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia), do not have friends or family to help them, and are too poor to afford a private firm to serve in this role. The problem right now is that these individuals end up in hospitals and then are forced to stay there because there is no one to whom they may be released. Hospitals are not meant to serve as long term care facilities. It is dangerous for these individuals to remain there, and it is expensive for the hospitals to provide their room and board if they are not receiving medical care. We need to expand the number of counties the current program serves, with the ultimate goal of a statewide Office of Public Guardianship.
Colorado State Plan Overview
The Colorado Alzheimer's Coordinating Council (CACC) was authorized by the Colorado State Legislature in 2008 with the passage of Senate Bill 08-058. Members included representatives from state agencies, the state legislature, care providers, family caregivers, persons living with the disease, and the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Tasked with creating a state plan on Alzheimer's, the CACC focused on Colorado's current public and private capacity to address Alzheimer's, identify service and support gaps, and make recommendations to improve the care of those living with the disease, their caregivers, and their families. The Colorado State Alzheimer Disease Plan: A Roadmap for Alzheimer's Disease Caregiving and Family Support Policies was published in November 2010.
Colorado State Advocacy Day
February 19, 2020
Alzheimer’s Day at the Capitol is a one-day event where people who are passionate about making the fight against Alzheimer's and other dementias a priority in Colorado come together to help make that happen. How? By talking to our state elected officials about how they can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s, and how to support families struggling with the disease until the day comes when there is a cure. We provide advocates with all the tools to educate the people who represent you about the statewide needs of Coloradans struggling with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. You add your story, and together, we can ensure that our lawmakers address Alzheimer’s as state priority.
Sign Up to Learn More About Advocacy Opportunities in Colorado
State Affairs Contact Rachael Minore | | [email protected]
Number of People Aged 65 and Older With Alzheimer's by Age
Percentage change from 2020
Medicaid costs of caring for people with Alzheimer's (2020)
change in costs from 2020 to 2025
per capita Medicare spending on people with dementia (in 2019 dollars)
of people in hospice have a primary diagnosis of dementia
of people in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia
of emergency department visits per 1,000 people with dementia
dementia patient hospital readmission rate
increase in emergency deparment visits since 2007
Number of Caregivers
Total Hours of Unpaid Care
Total Value of Unpaid Care
|1,649||total deaths in Colorado|
|6th||leading cause of death in Colorado|
For more information, view the 2020 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report at alz.org/facts.
Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, and as many as 13.8 million will have the disease in 2050. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer's and other dementias is estimated to total $305 billion in 2020, increasing to $1.1 trillion (in today's dollars) by mid-century. Nearly 1 in 3 seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer's or another dementia.