National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease: 2016 Update. Strategy 4.A: Educate the Public about Alzheimer's Disease

08/01/2016

Cognitive Health Awareness. ACL rolled out a campaign to change the way consumers aged 60-70 think about their brains and brain health. The campaign encourages older adults to talk about their brain health and take steps to reduce associated risks. Those experiencing MCI are encouraged to seek medical attention. The What is Brain Health? Campaign launched in fall 2015 and continues in 2016. The Campaign's website is http://www.brainhealth.gov and its launch focused on St. Louis and Las Vegas in 2015. Focus areas in 2016 are San Francisco and Chicago. Both years' efforts have national elements. Development of a What is Brain Health? Campaign for an Hispanic audience is underway this year with the goal of running the Campaign in 2017.

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Alzheimer's Disease Information. NIA operates the ADEAR Center, the primary Federal Government resource for information about AD/ADRD, research, and caregiving. The ADEAR Center educates the public about the latest research findings and provides evidence-based information online, in print and via a call center. Information about Alzheimer's and other dementias, participation in clinical trials, and caregiving is freely available. NIA promotes ADEAR's resources through outreach in the research and care communities and through the media and advocacy organizations, via weekly e-alerts to more than 50,000 subscribers, and social media outreach to more than 10,000 followers.

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Public Outreach on Brain Health. The Brain Health Resource, a presentation toolkit on brain health as we age, was developed by ACL with NIH and CDC for use at senior centers and in other community settings. Written in plain language, the evidence-based resource explains what people can do to help keep their brains functioning best. In 2016, the toolkit was expanded to include materials in Spanish and a new brain health module entitled, Medicine, Age, and Your Brain.

NIH unveiled the Mind Your Risks public health campaign to educate people with high blood pressure about the importance of controlling blood pressure in midlife (ages 45-65) to help reduce the risk of having a stroke and possibly developing dementia later in life. The website includes research highlights, such as the Northern Manhattan Study, a NIH-funded investigation of the predictors of stroke, cognitive impairment, and dementia in a tri-ethnic community that may inform future intervention programs for prevention of stroke and cognitive decline in diverse populations.

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Alzheimers.gov. HHS launched the website http://alzheimers.gov in 2012 and it needs to be refreshed. Two sets of analyses are underway to guide this process. The first analyzes website use to understand how many people are using the site and what information they find most useful. The second assessment involves a scan of other websites providing information on AD/ADRD. The result of these analyses will help determine how the website can best provide valuable information while not duplicating information already available from other sources.

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Public Health Research Network. CDC created the new Healthy Brain Research Network (HBRN) in 2014, a thematic network in CDC's PRCs. The Network's activities build on the mission of CDC's HBI to better understand attitudes and perceived changes in cognitive functioning over time through public health surveillance, build a strong evidence base for communication (e.g., messaging) and programmatic interventions to improve or maintain cognitive function, and help to translate that evidence base into effective public health programs and practices in states and communities. The PRCs include the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (Coordinating Center), Oregon Health and Science University Center for Healthy Communities; University of Arizona Prevention Center; University of Illinois at Chicago PRC; University of Pennsylvania PRC; and the University of South Carolina PRC.

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Message Development and Testing. CDC funded year 1 of a 2-year project to develop and disseminate science-based, culturally-relevant messages and strategies that promote awareness about cognition and cognitive impairment, including AD/ADRD, which will lead to increased detection of this type of impairment. The University of Pennsylvania PRC will assess perceptions about cognitive health and impairment among non-Hispanic White and African American adults aged 50 or older living in the Philadelphia area. This work will inform the development, pilot testing, and dissemination of timely public health messages for this population and examine the potential scaling of these findings to other populations.

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Lewy Who? Campaign. The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) launched its Lewy Who? Campaign in 2014 to raise the visibility of LBD to the general public and especially adults over the age of 50. The Campaign, now in its second year, features paid advertising, public relations and social media engagement. The ads appearing on AARP.com has resulted in one of the highest click-through rates of its website, underscoring the public's interest in learning more about this common but unfamiliar disorder. An education pamphlet on LBDA's Lewy Who? is available.

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Parity Task Force. As part of wider Administration efforts to expand access to treatment for people with mental health and substance use disorders, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum in March 2016 creating a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. The Task Force will focus key federal agencies on the work of ensuring that Americans receive the coverage and treatment that they need. Task Force membership includes: the White House Domestic Policy Council; the Department of the Treasury; DoD; the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ); the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL); HHS; VA; the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

The objectives of the Task Force are to:

  • Increase awareness of the protections that mental health and substance use disorder parity provide.
  • Improve understanding of the requirements of mental health and substance use disorder parity among key audiences including health plans, insurers and state regulators.
  • Increase transparency around compliance with parity and the support, resources, and tools available to ensure coverage is in compliance with mental health and substance use disorder parity.

     

The Task Force will present its findings and recommendations in a report to the President by October 31, 2016.

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