Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging are leading partners in the ACT on Alzheimer’s® collaborative. ACT on Alzheimer’s, launched in June 2011, is a volunteer-driven, statewide collaboration preparing Minnesota for the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. One in seven with Alzheimer’s lives alone. Over one third of people 85 and older have Alzheimer’s. And, 70 percent of people with Alzheimer’s live in their communities. As our population ages, Alzheimer’s and related dementias will have personal, social and budgetary impacts on all of us.
Goals of the Collaborative
The collaboration has hundreds of participants, including more than 60 nonprofit, governmental and private organizations, and works toward five goals:
- Identify and invest in promising approaches that reduce costs and improve care.
- Increase early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and improve ongoing care and support.
- Sustain caregivers by offering them information, resources and in-person support.
- Equip communities to support residents and families touched by Alzheimer’s disease.
- Raise awareness and reduce stigma by engaging communities.
ACT on Alzheimer’s has developed a Dementia Capable Communities Toolkit to guide communities, provider practice tools to assist professionals in identifying and managing the disease, and awareness activities that can be shared and modeled.
Seven communities across the state have launched Action Community Teams:
- St. Louis Park
- Twin Cities Jewish Community
- St. Paul Neighborhoods (SPN ACT)
- Forest Lake
Each of the communities is implementing the Community Toolkit, which is a four-phased process:
- ACT Together
Participating communities are producing exciting results. Jules Benson, the Action Team lead in Forest Lake, summarizes their team’s resolve as: “We believe that through education, awareness, and possibly some physical changes, we can create a new culture surrounding an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.” The team hopes to:
- Increase awareness of citizens who are living with dementia and their caregivers and create a better living environment for them.
- Decrease the stigma attached to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, so that everyone in the community has the same opportunity for a comfortable life.
- Educate people on the fact that though life will change with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there is still quality life to live, joy to be had, and memories to make.
ACT on Alzheimer’s was awarded the 2013 Odyssey Award for their efforts to advance awareness and dispel myths about the disease. The collaboration is putting Minnesota at the forefront nationally in preparing for Alzheimer’s.