By Linnea Langkammer
A dementia advocacy group co-signed a recommendation for a set of 2030 federal health objectives, encouraging the establishment of dementia-friendly communities and improving the psychological health of caregivers.
These two objectives were overlooked by the federal committee that advises the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on national health and disease prevention, according to the Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease (LEAD) Coalition.
LEAD emphasizes the importance of community and the concern for social isolation amongst individuals with dementia. Dementia-friendly communities would provide a safe and enriched environment for individuals to remain engaged and socially active.
An additional objective would address the psychological health of caregivers, curbing burnout and increasing quality of life. Many caregivers experience depression, injury, and self-neglect as they face challenges supporting their loved ones with dementia.
LEAD comprises researchers, clinical institutions, care providers, academics, and patient advocates. They advise on dementia-related policies and legislative initiatives, such as the federal objectives for 2030, Healthy People 2030. Dating back to 1990, Healthy People is a decade-long initiative that develops national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
Although many objectives from 2020’s Healthy People are continued for 2030, two objectives were omitted that LEAD recommends be restored: requiring geriatric training and increasing the use of assistive listening devices.
“As more Americans look towards living longer lives, healthcare workforce capacity must be expanded to provide high-quality, safe, and coordinated care to older adults,” states the open letter from LEAD, which was co-signed by Penn Memory Center Co-Director Dr. Jason Karlawish. The group recommends all healthcare providers, regardless of specialty, undergo geriatric certification to meet the unique needs of older people.
LEAD also recommends increasing the use of hearing aids or other rehabilitative services for those with hearing loss, as evidence shows such interventions may ease cognitive decline.
Healthy People 2030 continues several objectives from 2020 with the full support of LEAD, including:
- standardizing a clinical assessment tool that would provide a timely and reliable form of dementia detection
- emphasizing the importance of nutrition and physical activity
- normalizing conversations about cognitive health with healthcare professionals
- reducing preventable hospitalizations
- expanding Telemedicine, which offers a vital service for people with dementia whose travel challenges can significantly limit access to in-person care