The number of people living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias in Missouri is projected to increase from 120,000 to 130,000 by 2025, says a new report from the Missouri Alzheimer’s State Program Task Force. A public health crisis.
The task force was commissioned by Governor Mike Parson to assess current and future resources for the Alzheimer’s crisis in Missouri. It held eight community forums in Missouri and heard from 104 people from urban and rural communities. Common themes at these forums include limited public understanding of these diseases, difficulty accepting an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the greater need for financial and logistical care assistance.
The task force laid out a list of nine goals Missouri could make progress on, including increased funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Deferred Grant and a statewide crisis response system that supports people with dementia.
Early detection and diagnosis of cognitive impairment diseases are key to increasing treatment and reducing costs, the report said. Increased early diagnosis could save as much as $7.9 trillion nationwide, the task force said. It recommends funding public health campaigns and developing CDC guidelines on public health issues.
Care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in Missouri is also an overlooked aspect of the public health crisis, the report said. Missourians provided more than 292 million hours of unpaid care to family and friends with the disease, which values the state at nearly $4.9 billion. Other options, including respite care assistance and long-term care services, have few services available and long waiting lists.
Beyond that, underrepresented and underresourced communities are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, they are less likely to be diagnosed, recruited for research and to receive care.
“Successful implementation of these recommendations will require a culturally appropriate approach that benefits all Missouri residents,” the report reads.