Alzheimer's Association



November 2017

Tau Linked to Subjective Cognitive Decline

JAMA NeurologyThe buildup of tau protein in the brain – one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s dementia – is correlated with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), according to new research. SCD – or self-reported increase in memory loss or confusion – may be a first outward sign of tau buildup in the brain, though further research is needed to establish cause and effect.

Use surveillance data to enhance awareness and action in public health programming.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows that SCD may be a strong indicator of future Alzheimer’s. The Cognitive Module of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) provides state-specific surveillance data on SCD, allowing public health practitioners to better understand the extent and burden of cognitive issues in their communities; this information can also help identify populations to prioritize for early detection efforts. As recommended in the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map – a public health guidebook jointly developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alzheimer's Association – public health officials can enhance awareness and action by incorporating BRFSS data in their programming.

For more resources and examples of how states have successfully utilized BRFSS data, be sure to check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s updated Resource Guide. In it, you can find other resources and examples of the work being performed by the public health community around the country.

New Briefs Offer Guidance for AAPI Communities

NAPCA LogoTwo new issue briefs from the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) share information on dementia as an important issue for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. They also present recent findings from a study that tested culturally appropriate messages to improve early identification of dementia and suggest resources for better reaching AAPI communities.

The briefs resulted from collaboration among NAPCA, the Washington State Department of Health, the University of Washington’s coordinating center of the Healthy Brain Research Network, the Washington State Dementia Action Collaborative, and the Washington Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rural Caregivers Face More Financial Barriers

Caregiver woman at tableRural informal caregivers faced greater financial barriers to seeing a doctor compared with urban caregivers, according to a recent study. Examining data from the BRFSS Caregiver Module, nearly 40 percent of rural caregivers reported that in the past year, they needed to see a doctor but were unable to do so due to cost. Only 31 percent of urban caregivers reported the same financial barrier.

Increase awareness among health care professionals about care partner health.

States with a large rural population can use data like this to help ensure that health care providers assess for care partner health, as recommended in the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map.

Upcoming Webinar: Caregiver Needs and Well-Being

Public Health Live LogoOn November 16, 2017 from 9:00-10:00 am ET, the University of Albany-SUNY School of Public Health will host the next Public Health Live! webinar designed for clinicians and other health care professionals: Dementia Caregiver Needs and Well-Being. Please register in advance.

As more and more Americans become caregivers for loved ones with dementia, maintaining and improving the health and well-being of caregivers is essential. This webcast will feature discussion on how to assess and support caregiver needs to best ensure optimal care for their loved ones with dementia.

Public Health Grand Rounds: Beyond the Data

Public Health Grand RoundsAs part of the Public Health Grand Rounds this past September, Dr. Phoebe Thorpe of the CDC and Matthew Baumgart of the Alzheimer’s Association sat down for a discussion on protecting brain health and the challenges of caring for an aging population. Their talk – Beyond the Data (click the second tab in the video player) – focuses not only on reducing the risk of cognitive decline – especially by managing cardiovascular disease – but also the services needed to provide competent and compassionate care for people with dementia and the importance of caregiver health.

Also, be sure to check out the entire Grand Rounds presentation, Healthy Aging: Promoting Well-Being in Older Adults (first tab in the video player) for a broad view of aging and health. Continuing education credits are available.

New Tools Available for Providers

A number of helpful guides and toolkits for health care providers have been published recently. They will help providers assess for cognitive issues, begin care planning for those with cognitive impairment, and help caregivers maintain their own health.

Gerontological KaerThe Gerontological Society of America (GSA) published the KAER Toolkit, based on their model (kickstart the conversation, assess cognition, evaluate for dementia, and refer for community resources). The toolkit is designed specifically to help providers with each of the four steps by recommending evidence-based tools. The guidance incorporates the perspectives of the patient and family caregivers.

HRSA Health WorkforceThe Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) released a 16-module online Training Curriculum on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias for the primary care workforce. Designed for many sectors of the health care workforce – including primary care practitioners, direct service workers, and medical and nursing students - the training covers basic dementia education. Some modules also explore more in-depth topics such as shared decision-making, caregiver health, and dentistry.

NIA Spanish Language callout graphicThe National Institute of Aging now offers a guide on caregiving in Spanish. This guide contains information on a number of different subjects, such as wandering, healthy eating and exercise, and caregiver health.


What Is Public Health? – New Explanatory Tools for the Public

Public Health Infographic Page 1Two new tools will help educate the public, health care providers, and policymakers about public health and why, specifically, Alzheimer’s is a public health issue. Dr. David Satcher, former Surgeon General of the United States, called Alzheimer’s “…the most under-recognized threat to public health in 21st century.” These two new tools will help explain just why that is.

One side of a new infographic not only defines “public health,” but also walks through when health issues become public health concerns. The reverse explains why the burden of Alzheimer’s needs to be addressed from a public health perspective.

A complementary, animated video goes a step further, offering examples of how the public health community can use tools and techniques of public health to address Alzheimer’s in their communities. Feel free to download and distribute these tools throughout your networks.

AAIC Abstracts Available Online

AAIC 17 logo -smallAll abstracts from research presented at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, held in London, England, from July 14-20, 2017, are now available. These abstracts include the landmark Lancet Commission Report describing modifiable risk factors for dementia as well as other areas of public health interest including socioeconomic disparities related to increased dementia risk and incidence.

In Case You Missed It: Webinar on Disparities Among African Americans

Streaming video iconThis summer’s webinar – African Americans and Alzheimer’s: Innovating to Turn the Tide – is now available online. Co-hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Balm in Gilead, the webinar explores Alzheimer’s and dementia disparities among the African American community including innovative awareness building via faith-based institutions.

Be sure to check out the Public Health playlist on YouTube for other public health webinars and trainings.


The Alzheimer’s Public Health E-News is supported by Cooperative Agreement # NU58DP006115-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Alzheimer’s Association and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC.

For subscription services or to view previous issues of Alzheimer’s Public Health News, please visit or contact John Shean (


Alzheimer's Public Health Curriculum

A free, flexible curricular resource introduces Alzheimer's as a public health issue.

The HBI Road Map 
Healthy Brain Initiative Cover - 2018
Designed for state and local public health practitioners, the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map encourages 25 actions that help promote brain health, address cognitive impairment, and support the needs of caregivers.

Road Map for Indian Country 
HBI Road Map for Indian Country cover
Designed for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map for Indian Country is a guide for AI/AN leaders to learn about Alzheimer’s and begin planning their response to dementia.

Public health URL-cropped

Learn about the public health approach to Alzheimer's with topic-specific primers, examples, and resources at

For more information on the Healthy Brain Initiative, public health priorities, or Alzheimer's disease in general, contact Molly French or check out


The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's disease®.

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