ISSUE BRIEF: Dementia-capable States and Communities: the Basics (PDF)

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) leads the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which deals with many of these issues. The Plan provides a national strategy for strengthening research, medical care, and long-term services and supports for those living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It contains actions for federal agencies, states, and communities related to dealing with the unique needs of people with dementia, and their families. The Plan, which the 2011 National Alzheimer’s Project Act requires, has 5 goals:

1. Prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.
2. Optimize care quality and efficiency.
3. Expand supports for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.
4. Enhance public awareness and engagement.
5. Track progress and drive improvement.

Using these goals as guidance, we discuss how states and communities can become dementia-capable, that is, able to help people with dementia and their caregivers. To show how this can be done, we provide examples from the United States and some other countries. We begin by explaining why dementia-capability is so important for families, their communities, states, and the nation.