A predicted 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease in 2050, dramatically impacting the lives of many Vermonters and their families. In addition to the emotional and financial stress diagnosed individuals and their caregivers face, the increasing numbers pose a significant burden on the health care system.
Facts & Figures
- Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death in Vermont.
- One half of primary care providers reported feeling inadequately prepared to care for patients with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $277 billion in 2018, with $106 million in Medicaid spending for people with Alzheimer’s.
- In 2019 over 3000 Vermonters 65 years and older diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease visited hospital emergency departments.
Brain Health & Dementia: Clinical Guidelines
As health professionals, you can help patients and families prevent, delay, or manage cognitive decline and dementia by initiating conversations about brain health. Here are some tips:
- Learn about key behaviors for early detection.
- Address chronic conditions such as mid-life hypertension and obesity to protect the patient’s brain health as they age.
- Learn more about tips on living with dementia.
- Make available Vermont-specific resources at your practice. Contact [email protected] for materials on Brain Health & Dementia or other VDH programs.
Brain Health & Chronic Disease
Research has confirmed two important links between brain health and chronic disease:
- Rates of depressive disorder, obesity, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are significantly higher among Vermont adults with cognitive decline, compared to those without cognitive decline.
- Effectively managing chronic condition improves overall health and can prevent dementia by supporting brain health.
Importance of Lifestyle Interventions
Evidence shows that Vermonters can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by making key lifestyle changes—especially middle-aged individuals, those with a chronic condition and anyone with a family history of dementia. The CDC-funded Public Health Center on Risk Reduction has resources for health care providers: Accelerate Risk Reduction | Alzheimer's Association
Talk to all adult patients about the Healthy Body, Healthy Brain connection and support them to:
- Prevent and manage diabetes, hypertension, depression, and COPD
- Wear seat belts and bike helmets and seek treatment immediately for falls and concussions
- Maintain good heart health including cholesterol
- Maintain good oral health
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet (Mediterranean, MIND, DASH)
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Get adequate sleep
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol use
- Stay cognitively and socially engaged
Vermont has several evidence-based, free programs to help patients lead healthier lives:
- 802Quits.org: Personalized quit tobacco coaching, tools, and resources, including free nicotine replacement therapy and support for people who vape.
- MyHealthyVT.org: Free, online healthy lifestyle workshops created by the CDC and led by local health coaches. Workshops are available on a variety of topics and conditions, including prediabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure, tobacco use, and chronic disease and chronic pain management.
- You First: A free program for women—and anyone with breasts or a cervix— that covers the cost of mammograms, pap tests, and heart disease screenings. Members aged 30-64 are also eligible for gym memberships, state park passes, fruits and veggie coupons, and more! All members must meet certain income requirements.
Next Steps for Providers
Sign Up for Training & CMEs
VT Health Learn: Dementia education for primary care providers and care teams in Vermont, accessible 24/7 and offers continuing medical education credits.
Project ECHO: Evidence based education series covering dementia care, diagnosis, and management for primary care teams.
VDH Grand Rounds: Periodic presentations on healthy aging and risk reduction, early detection and management of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias
Alzheimer’s Association offers trainings and materials for healthcare clinicians and care providers:
- Health Systems & Clinicians | Alzheimer's Association
- Professional Care Providers | Alzheimer's Association
- First Responders | Alzheimer's Association
Refer your patients to Vermont Department of Health FREE dementia risk reduction and chronic disease management Programs
Request Patient Educational Materials: For materials on Brain Health & Dementia or other VDH programs, contact Ed DeMott, Program Manager at [email protected].