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Alzheimer’s plan updates unveiled by HHS

April 29, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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New plans to address Alzheimer’s disease through dementia care guidelines and measures, workforce-building, and coordinated and integrated long-term services and supports have been unveiled as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease: 2014 Update.

The plan includes five overarching goals:

  1. Find ways to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.
  2. Enhance care for Alzheimer’s patients.
  3. Expand support for people with dementia and their families.
  4. Improve public awareness.
  5. Carefully track data to support these efforts.

“The scientific opportunities in research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have never been greater,” says Richard J. Hodes, MD, director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. “We have made important discoveries about factors influencing development of the disease and in 2014, based on what we have learned, will focus on building and testing interventions that can make a difference.”

The plan identifies several actions to be led by HHS to improve research, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Efforts to identify the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease and to develop and test targets for intervention will be accelerated.
  • Collaboration in science, data-sharing and priority-setting among Alzheimer’s disease experts, healthcare providers and caregivers will be increased to move research and care forward.
  • Current work to strengthen dementia-care guidelines and quality measures, including meaningful outcomes for people with dementia and their families, will be expanded.
  • Healthcare providers will be assisted so they can better address ethical considerations related to caring for people with dementia, including how to balance privacy, autonomy and safety.
  • Global collaboration on dementia, including hosting a February 2015 follow-up meeting to the December 2013 G8 Summit on Dementia, will receive enhanced support.

In addition to outlining plans for the future, the plan notes progress toward accomplishing goals set in 2012 as well as current action steps to achieving them. The 2011 National Alzheimer’s Project Act (PDF) calls for all plans to be updated annually; the 2014 plan follows the initial plan released in May 2012 and an updated plan released in June 2013.

Highlights during the past year, according to HHS:

  • Eleven Alzheimer’s risk genes have been identified, providing new insights about disease pathways and possible drug targets.
  • More than 23,000 healthcare providers have received dementia-related training and support.
  • Public-private efforts have focused on reducing the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications among long-stay nursing home residents with dementia by nearly 14 percent.
  • States have been provided funding to develop dementia-capable long-term services and supports systems.

The 2014 plan was developed with input from experts in aging and Alzheimer’s disease from federal, state, private and non-profit organizations, as well as from caregivers and people who have the disease.

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