To help achieve our state policy goals, the Alzheimer’s Association educates legislators and regulators about our issues, offers model legislation for consideration, provides technical assistance for policy makers, brings our advocates to the state houses to tell their personal stories and a wide variety of other programs.
State policy is vital to the work that the Association is doing to meet the needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and their families. State officials determine regulatory and statutory standards for dementia training, control spending on state respite care dollars (which affects access to those services), designate spending for state long-term care services, and control Medicaid spending, and in some cases, eligibility and scope of benefits - all of which can have a direct effect on families impacted by Alzheimer's disease.
To achieve these goals we work to:
Since 2007, nearly every state has developed a State Alzheimer's Disease Plan to address to growing economic and social impact of the disease. These comprehensive plans identify critical issues, recommend solutions, and create a roadmap to guide a state's development into a dementia-capable state. State legislatures and state agnecies must fully implement the recommendations included in their state's Alzheimer's disease plan and revisit and re-publish their plans every three to five years to ensure they are kept up to date and account for current needs and recent developments.
People with Alzheimer’s deserve quality care throughout the course of the disease — and they deserve to receive it from knowledgeable professionals across the care continuum. All individuals employed to provide care in residential, home, and adult day settings must be properly trained in dementia care. Yet training standards vary widely by state. For example, less than half of all states require dementia training for staff of nursing homes, and less than one-fifth of states require it for adult day staff. As the number of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias increases, states must have adequate dementia- training laws to equip workers across the care continuum with the ability to provide person and family-centered care, communicate effectively with persons with dementia, and address specific and unique aspects of care and safety for people with dementia.
Fewer than half of all people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or their caregivers, are aware of the diagnosis. Early detection and diagnosis — and knowing of the diagnosis — are essential to ensuring the best medical care and outcomes for those affected by the disease. Healthy People 2020 has set the goal of increasing the percentage of individuals with the disease or their caregivers who are aware of the diagnosis.
There is a growing scientific consensus that regular physical activity, management of certain cardiovascular risk factors (such as diabetes, smoking, and hypertension) and avoidance of traumatic brain injury can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Studies show these factors may also reduce the risk of dementia. Especially in the absence of a disease-modifying treatment, public health action must be taken to increase public awareness and education about known and potentially modifiable risk factors of cognitive decline and dementia.
Among individuals with Alzheimer’s, 75 percent will be admitted to a nursing home by the age of 80. As a result, Medicaid is critical for many people with Alzheimer’s. While Medicaid spending constitutes one of the largest items in most state budgets — and most states continue to face severe fiscal constraints — state policymakers must ensure that critical benefits are preserved.
Total Medicaid Costs for Americans Age 65 and Older Living with Alzheimer's or Other Dementias by State
|State||2017 (in millions of dollars)||2025 (in millions of dollars)||Percentage Increase|
|District of Columbia||115||131||13.7%|
All cost figures are reported in 2017 dollars. State totals may not add to the U.S. total due to rounding. Excerpted from the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. See the full report for methodology (alz.org/facts).