Integrating Alzheimer’s’ Messages into Chronic Disease Programs

The Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosts the Healthy Brain Initiative (HBI). HBI provides data, information, and education to promote brain health, including information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Alzheimer’s disease is currently the fifth leading cause of death for persons over the age of 65. HBI applies principles, strategies, and expertise to promote public health actions related to brain health, Alzheimer’s disease, and caregiving. This work is guided by The Healthy Brain Initiative State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia, The 2018-2023 Road Map.

NACDD is working in partnership with CDC to develop integrated messaging about brain health by adapting existing chronic disease risk reduction messages. This includes information about how behaviors related to these topics can also reduce the risk for cognitive decline. This purpose is consistent with the call to action in the most recent version of the Healthy Brain Initiative Roadmap, which is to integrate best available evidence about brain health and cognitive decline risk factors into existing health communications that promote health and chronic disease management for people across the lifespan.

This project focuses on integrating messages in five focus areas:

  • Heart health
  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity

NACDD and CDC have collaborated to identify subject matter experts in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and health communications to provide input and guidance on risk reduction messages that include information about brain health.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have both social and economic impacts. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease; by 2050 this number is expected to increase to 14 million. In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the US $290 billion; these costs could reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

NACDD and CDC together developed the State of Aging and Health in America Data Brief, Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Public Health Issue. This brief analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on the self-reported worsening or more frequent confusion or memory problems – known as subjective cognitive decline (SCD) – in adults 45 years of age and older from 2015-2017. These data showed that the prevalence of SCD is 11.1%, or 1 in 9 adults. The prevalence of SCD among adults aged 65 years and older is 11.7% compared to 10.8% among adults 45-64 years of age. The prevalence of SCD differs among racial/ethnic groups: 10.9% of non-Hispanic white adults reported SCD compared to 12.8% of black adults, and 11.0% of Hispanics, and 6.7% of Asians and Pacific Islanders.  Lower prevalence of SCD is reported in adults with more years of formal education.

For more information, visit the NACDD Healthy Aging website chronicdisease.org/page/HealthyAging. To learn more about the CDC Healthy Brain Initiative, visit cdc.gov/aging/healthybrain.