TENNESSEE (November 23) – Tennessee has one of the highest dementia-related mortality rates. In fact, each year more than 3,500 Tennesseans die from Alzheimer’s Disease. We recognize caregivers are an integral part of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias lives. In Tennessee today, there are approximately 120,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease being cared for by 444,000 informal caregivers.
The State of Tennessee recognizes the unique needs of those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, as well as their caregivers. In 2019, the Tennessee General Assembly unanimously passed legislation creating the Alzheimer’s disease and related Dementia Advisory Council (Chapter 364 of the Public Acts of 2019). The Act requires the Council to develop and submit an Alzheimer’s Disease State Plan to the General Assembly each year. The Plan includes recommendations and strategies to be achieved through collaborative efforts between not-for-profit organizations, private entities, government agencies, persons with dementia, caregivers, and other stakeholders across the State. The first full State Plan was released January 19, 2020, and can be found at www.tn.gov/aging.
“COVID-19 has impacted us all, including those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers,” said Jim Shulman, executive director for the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability and chair of the State Alzheimer’s Advisory Council. These impacts include the stress of being unable to access outside support (ex: adult day, respite, etc) and increased social isolation. Additionally, some caregivers must decide between their job and providing essential help to an older loved one or risking passing the virus to that person.
As an ongoing entity, the Council is requesting feedback from the community to ensure the highest possible quality of life for Tennesseans with dementia, along with their families and caregivers.
“We want to hear from you! This is an opportunity for all Tennesseans to provide input for the updated Alzheimer’s Disease State Plan. Please take a few minutes and share which strategies you would like this Council to focus on over the next 1 – 2 years. Your input is invaluable, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration,” said Dawne Bunn, executive director for Alzheimer’s Association – Tennessee Chapter.