Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Health today shared online resources for health care providers and the publicto learn about and support Pennsylvanians who may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
Dementia is not a specific disease but rather reflects a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.
“Pennsylvanians deserve the best care possible for their physical health and cognitive health and well-being as they age,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. “The sooner someone recognizes the signs of Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders, the more power they have in determining what happens to them next. By compiling these resources into one place, it will help promote better understanding of the importance of early detection among health care workers and the public as well as providing information about diagnosis, treatment and prevention.”
Governor Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 1082 in February 2022 establishing Act 9 which calls on the Department of Health to establish and maintain resources to provide information on the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia primarily geared toward primary care providers. All resources connect providers and the public to national and state accredited resources.
“The Department of Aging is pleased to have collaborated with the Department of Health to develop this comprehensive online resource that includes educational resources to help primary care providers support their patients who are living with Alzheimer’s Disease or a related disorder,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “This one-stop reference tool gives providers access to resources on detection, diagnosis, treatment and care planning, including methods to detect cognitive decline as part of annual wellness visits, information to build awareness of racial and ethnic disparities in detection and diagnosis, and other subject areas that are key to ensuring broader, more equitable access to services and treatment for all.”
The Department of Health will continue to research evidence-based resources and collaborate with stakeholders to determine materials to be disseminated to the public and stakeholders.
“As the numbers of those impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia in Pennsylvania are only expected to grow, the need to address Alzheimer’s as a public health crisis, in a coordinated and strategic way with the PA Department of Health, is essential,” said Jennifer Ebersole, Director of State Government Affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter. “The historic passage of this law, and the development and implementation of education efforts and resources can empower families and ensure the health care community is prepared to address the needs of this growing population. Early detection and diagnosis make all the difference for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, as it affords more time to build a care team and seek medical treatments, participate in clinical trials, financially plan for the future, access support services, and communicate wishes with loved ones when cognition is least impacted.”
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible progressive brain disease that affects an estimated 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older. It is estimated there are 280,000 Pennsylvanians currently living with the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death among all adults.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, visit www.health.pa.gov.