Congressional Profiles

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Advocates Push for Rapid Testing in Long-Term Care Facilities

August 18, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Advocates are asking Gov. Bill Lee to supply Tennessee's long-term care facilities with rapid coronavirus testing, with the goal of being able to reunite residents with their families faster.

Since early spring, long-term care facilities across the state have closed their doors to visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rachel Blackhurst, public policy and advocacy director with the Alzheimer's Association's Tennessee Chapter, said because social isolation among people with dementia can speed decline and worsen cognitive abilities, having access to rapid-turnaround testing is critical for residents, staff and visitors.



Support Dementia Caregivers by Establishing an Alzheimer’s Respite Care Program

There are over 444,000 Tennesseans providing unpaid care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Providing this care often comes at a great expense both financially and to the caregiver’s health. Those who take on the exhausting labor of love that is caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s need support. The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on state policymakers to enact legislation to deliver home and community-based services including respite to those living alone with Alzheimer's and those being cared for in home by a family member or other informal caregiver. The Colonel Thomas G. Bowden Memorial Act will create a pilot program, OPTIONS for Dementia Care, which will provide Tennesseans with Alzheimer's and dementia with services such as respite care, homemaker services, personal care, and home delivered meals.

Increase Education on Early Detection and Timely Diagnosis

Currently, only 50% of those living with Alzheimer's disease receive a formal diagnosis. This needs to change. Educating clinicians, public health professionals and the public on the early warning signs of Alzheimer's and other dementias and the importance of a timely diagnosis is the first step in ensuring that anyone diagnosed with this disease can benefit from future treatments, care planning and clinical trials. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging legislators to support legislation to incorporate Alzheimer’s into existing public health campaigns to increase education among the public and health care providers on the benefits of early detection and diagnosis, risk reduction, and care planning.

Tennessee State Plan Overview

In July 2007, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 826 (Public Chapter No. 566) establishing the Tennessee Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force (TADTF) to assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Tennessee, examine services and resources, and draft a state strategy to respond to Alzheimer’s within the state. The Task Force included representatives from long-term care organizations, adult day providers, physician groups, community organizations, state agencies, caregivers, individuals living with the disease and state legislators. In February 2009 the Task Force published the Tennessee Alzheimer’s Disease Task Force Final Report.

In May of 2019, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 28 (Public Chapter No. 364) establishing the Tennessee Alzheimer's Disease Advisory Council to assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer's disease in Tennessee, examine services and resources, and draft a state strategy to respond to Alzheimer's within the state. The Advisory Council includes representatives from long-term care organizations, stakeholders, physician groups, community organizations, state agencies, caregivers, individuals living with the disease, and state legislators. In January 2020 the Advisory Council published the updated Alzheimer's and Related Dementia State Plan.


Tennessee State Advocacy Day

March 08, 2021

Join your fellow Alzheimer's advocates for an exciting week of advocacy! We will kick off our week of virtual advocacy on Monday, March 8th with a rally and an advocacy 101 training with Tennessee's policy team. Learn tips for effective communication, storytelling, and engagement on Alzheimer's policy priorities. Attendees will have the opportunity throughout the week to engage one-on-one with elected officials to tell personal stories and garner support for Alzheimer's legislation. We will cap off the week with a town hall style meeting with legislative leadership. Hope to see you there!

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State Affairs Contact Rachel Blackhurst | | [email protected]

Alzheimer's Facts and Figures in Tennessee

Number of People Aged 65 and Older With Alzheimer's by Age

Year 65-74 75-84 85+ TOTAL
* Totals may not add due to rounding
2020 21,000 55,000 46,000 120,000
2025 23,000 69,000 52,000 140,000

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)

HOSPICE (2017)



of people in hospice have a primary diagnosis of dementia


of people in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia



Number of geriatricians in 2019


increase needed to meet Alzheimer's population needs in 2050

Hospitals (2017)



of emergency department visits per 1,000 people with dementia


dementia patient hospital readmission rate


increase in emergency deparment visits since 2007


444 Thousand

Number of Caregivers

506 Million

Total Hours of Unpaid Care

$6.63 Billion

Total Value of Unpaid Care

Number of Deaths from Alzheimer's Disease (2018)

3,488 total deaths in Tennessee
6th leading cause of death in Tennessee
4th highest Alzheimer's death rate in America
241% increase in Alzheimer's deaths since 2000

For more information, view the 2020 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report at alz.org/facts.

U.S. Statistics

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.