Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Healthy Brain Initiatives Road Map for Indian Country


This week, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the Healthy Brain Initiative’s Road Map for Indian Country. As the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) with Alzheimer’s grows — and grows quickly — a broad response is needed by those in the community to reduce the impact of dementia across generations. The HBI Road Map for Indian Country is a guide for AI/AN leaders to learn about cognitive health and start planning their communities’ response to dementia. Eight public health strategies are offered to help shape this response by embracing community strengths, including traditional practices, resilience, and existing services. The full guide provides suggestions for implementation, case studies, and data to jumpstart this process.

“Communities are stronger when older generations share knowledge and traditions,” said Molly French, director of public health for the Alzheimer’s Association. “To protect that heritage, tribal leaders can promote brain health across generations, including through existing programs addressing diabetes and hypertension. Early diagnosis and support for caregivers are two ways AI/AN communities can improve well-being and functioning for elders living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and all who care for them.”

To develop this landmark document, many experts and leaders throughout Indian Country provided guidance, reviewed drafts, and shared their experience addressing dementia and supporting caregivers. These AI/AN leaders recognized Alzheimer’s and other dementias as a serious and growing problem. In response, these leaders wanted ways to learn more about dementia and promote wellness while preparing for the future. This expertise shaped the Road Map for Indian Country into a guide that AI/AN communities could tailor and generate their own solutions based on local priorities and unique heritage.

The full HBI Road Map for Indian Country — along with an executive summary, a growing database of implementation examples, and readymade resources — can be accessed at alz.org/publichealth/indiancountry (more details below). The guidebook is also online at cdc.gov/aging, which has a wide array of data to inform this critical public health work. Be sure you and your colleagues to stay up-to-date on Alzheimer’s news by subscribing to our newsletter at alz.org/publichealth.

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