New York State Department of Health Recognizes Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Department Highlights State Investment in Community Service and Caregiver Support Programs

Promotes Early Diagnosis and Risk Reduction Strategies for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 6, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November while highlighting the $26 million in annual funding the state is making to ensure the availability of supports and services for those living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. This commitment acknowledges the personal, economic, and direct care toll the disease is taking across New York State.

"Alzheimer's disease inflicts a heavy toll not only on the person living with a diagnosis, but their family, their friends, their community, and their co-workers," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "I encourage all New Yorkers to take steps to reduce their risk by adopting a brain-healthy diet, taking part in regular exercise, and getting annual medical exams so any changes in cognitive health can be identified early and steps can be taken to try to slow the progression of this devastating disease."

According to the Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report for New York, released annually by the Alzheimer's Association, more than 410,000 New Yorkers aged 65 and older are living with the disease. That number is projected to increase by more than 12% to 460,000 within the next two years, adding to the extreme economic and caregiving challenges placed on individuals, families, health care providers, and the workforce by this disease.

Recognizing the significant burden the disease can have on all New Yorkers, the Department launched a funding commitment in 2015 that continues today. The Department invests $26 million annually in the Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Support Initiative (ADCSI). The funds are allocated to support community and health services for people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and their caregivers.

Data from this program shows that the ADCSI:

  • Prevents or delays institutionalization for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia (ADRD) and enables continued community residence.
  • Reduces unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
  • Promotes early diagnosis, allowing for appropriate medical, legal, and financial planning.
  • Improves the health and well-being of caregivers and individuals living with ADRD.
  • Provides cost savings to Medicaid.

The ADCSI program is comprised of two key components including clinical services and support services, offered across three initiatives:

  • Centers for Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease (CEAD). Ten CEADs across NYS serve as regional experts in the diagnosis and care of Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. Often affiliated with large medical centers and teaching hospitals, the Centers provide interdisciplinary assessments and care management for individuals experiencing changes in cognition. Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's or a related dementia and their caregivers are linked to appropriate community-based services and supports.
  • Regional Caregiver Support Initiative (CSI). Ten not-for-profit organizations provide community-based support services including caregiver assessments, caregiver wellness and joint enrichment activities, respite services, education programs and outreach to underserved communities.
  • Alzheimer's Disease Community Assistance Program (AlzCAP). The Department contracts with the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer's Association Chapters and its subcontractors—seven Alzheimer's Association Chapters across the State—to deliver a comprehensive array of community-based services. These include care consultations, training and education, a 24/7 Helpline available in more than 200 languages, support groups for both individuals living with a dementia diagnosis and caregivers, public outreach and awareness, and training for professional caregivers and others to promote dementia-friendly and well-informed communities.

Information about the ADCSI and where services can be accessed in a specific area or county across New York is available on the "Where Can I Get Help" page of the Department's Alzheimer's Disease Program website.

Additionally, the Department supports the work of the Alzheimer's Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote early detection and diagnosis. This ensures access to information, care, and community-based support when it is most needed by individuals living with the disease and caregivers.

Early detection and diagnosis can improve quality of life and quality of care and starts with having a conversation with a physician about concerns related to cognitive changes and general health. Early diagnosis allows individuals to plan for the future; helps decrease the financial burden the disease can take; enables individuals living with dementia to prepare advanced directives while they are still able to communicate their preferences; and to access newly evolving treatments and participate in clinical trials and research.

While currently there is no way to prevent or cure Alzheimer's disease, research is showing that healthy aging and making lifestyle changes across the life span can decrease the risk for developing Alzheimer's or related dementias.

Risk reduction strategies include:

  • Physical exercise. Getting some kind of physical exercise every day can help decrease the risk of developing dementia.
  • Diet. Following the Mediterranean or DASH diets, which are known to be heart healthy, may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
  • Preventing high blood pressure. Preventing and managing high blood pressure through diet, exercise, and doctor-prescribed medication can reduce risk.
  • Social support. Social connections and mental stimulation help by engaging the mind.
  • Sleep. Getting a full eight hours of sleep helps support brain health.
  • Avoiding head trauma. Wearing helmets when participating in contact sports, riding a bike, or roller blading/skating, as well as wearing a seat belt, all help to prevent head injuries.
  • Smoking. Not starting, or quitting smoking, can help maintain brain health.
  • Drinking. Avoiding the excessive consumption of alcohol can help promote a healthy brain.
  • Hearing. Preventing hearing loss by avoiding loud music or sounds, wearing headphones to block outside sound and keeping the volume low, and following providers advice to correct hearing loss may help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Additional information about dementia prevention, intervention, and care is available in this report from the medical journal, The Lancet.