The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was awarded a three-year project to build capacity to promote Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia risk reduction and prevention, early diagnosis, management of comorbidities, and caregiver support.

IDPH is one of 16 public health departments and Indian Health Boards awarded this capacity-building opportunity under the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act passed by Congress in 2018.  It’s funded at $200,000 annually for the three-year award period.

“This project is the first of its kind for IDPH and others across the country to focus on Alzheimer’s Disease and dementias,” said Dr. Nalo Johnson, Division Director, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease at IDPH. “IDPH will work with stakeholders to build capacity and promote risk reduction, early diagnosis, prevention, management of comorbidities, avoidance of hospitalizations, and to support caregiving for persons with dementia.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2019 more than one in eight Iowans aged 65 and older lived with Alzheimer’s, and as many as 73,000 will have the disease in 2050, a 10.6 percent rise in the prevalence of the disease. The CDC says the need for a well-coordinated public health approach is essential given advancements in knowledge about risk factors related to cognitive decline.

Jill Myers Geadelmann, Chief, IDPH Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Bureau, said the project will allow Iowa to develop a public health infrastructure.

“This will help us to address the needs of people living with dementia and their caregivers through strategic planning using surveillance data, education on risk reduction and prevention, and health care provider workforce development,” Myers Geadelmann said.

IDPH will involve a number of partners in the strategic planning effort including the Alzheimer’s Association, Iowa Chapter, The University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Iowa Primary Care Association.