TN Department of Health Wins Alzheimer’s Awareness Project

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) today announced that it has been awarded a two-year project to build capacity to promote Alzheimer’s disease awareness. This project will support provider engagement, strategic planning and public awareness of harm reduction, early diagnosis and treatment. TDH is one of 16 public health departments granted this capacity building opportunity under the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act.

“About 120,000 Tennesseans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 357,000 caregivers in the state provide millions of hours of care annually,” said Dr. Denise Werner, TDH Deputy Medical Director, Division of family health and well-being. “Our goal is to help people in Tennesse understand how to reduce their risk of developing dementia and who to turn to if they, or their family members, show signs of memory loss.”

Dementia is a general term for memory loss and decline in other mental functions that interferes with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. With more than 3,500 deaths per year, Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death in Tennessee. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks the state as having the fourth highest Alzheimer’s death rate in the nation based on 2019 data.

According to the 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, minority communities suffer disproportionately. For example, older African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Older Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than older non-Hispanic whites.

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TDH creates an awareness campaign on Alzheimer’s disease thanks to funding granted by the BOLD program. The department works with partners statewide to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, including warning signs, finding a diagnosis, and lifestyle habits that can help keep your healthy body and brain while reducing your risk of memory loss. The campaign will also encourage patients and caregivers to engage with a primary care provider to screen for dementia and share resources, including the importance of advance care planning with their patients and caregivers.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and how to get involved in TDH’s efforts, visit our website at tn.gov/memoryloss.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote, and enhance the health and prosperity of the people of Tennessee. To learn more about TDH’s services and programs, visit www.tn.gov/health.

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