US HHS Emphasizes Addressing Disparities and Risk Reduction for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced the annual release of the Department’s National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease: 2022 Update – PDF. Through the National Plan, HHS and its federal partners work to improve the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) research, support people living with dementia and their caregivers, and encourage action to reduce risk factors.

An estimated 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease or a related type of dementia. That number is expected to more than double by 2060 due to the aging of the population, making dementia a major public health issue as well as a challenge for the healthcare system.  The chance of developing dementia is not equal—Black and Latino Americans are more likely to develop the condition, as are people with risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression. Native American and Asian American adults living with Alzheimer’s disease are less likely to receive a timely diagnosis.

The 2022 Update includes several notable recent actions to address disparities in ADRD care. Earlier this year, the Indian Health Service (IHS) established the Alzheimer’s Grant Program, a first-of-its kind funding opportunity that supports the development of comprehensive dementia programs, as well as education and training efforts for healthcare providers, persons living with ADRD, and their caregivers. IHS also launched an Indian Health Geriatric Scholars pilot, which will provide intensive training to primary care clinicians at IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian Health programs.

The 2022 Update continues to advance actions to reduce risk factors for ADRD, which was added as a new goal in 2021. These include the Food and Drug Administration’s recent final rule establishing a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids, an initiative that also advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order on Competition. Hearing loss is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also convene a National Summit on Dementia Risk Reduction to advance public health strategies to address ADRD risk factors from May 16-17, 2023.

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which was signed into law in 2011, established the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services and charged the HHS Secretary with creating and annually updating a National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The plan is developed with input from agencies across HHS and other federal departments as well as recommendations from the Advisory Council, whose membership includes healthcare providers, researchers, caregivers, individuals living with dementia, state representatives, and advocates.

The National Plan has six ambitious goals to:

  • Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias by 2025
  • Enhance Care Quality and Efficiency
  • Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias and Their Families
  • Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement
  • Improve Data to Track Progress
  • Accelerate Action to Promote Healthy Aging and Reduce Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the National Plan in May 2022 HHS released a series of publications and presentations highlighting the Department’s accomplishments in addressing ADRD. Visit the 10th Anniversary website for more information.

Visit Alzheimers.gov for information about ongoing research and the many federal resources available to educate and support people whose lives are touched by these devastating diseases.