Center on Aging receives $1 million grant for Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative

Christy Nishita
Christy Nishita

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Center on Aging has received a three-year grant for $1 million for the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative-Specialized Supportive Services Project from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hawaiʻi is one of 11 states to receive such a grant.

The grant will be utilized by the Center on Aging to “fill gaps in dementia-capable long-term services and supports for persons living with or those at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers by providing quality, person-centered services that help them remain independent and safe in their communities.”

Ritabelle Fernandes
Ritabelle Fernandes

The Center on Aging will work with community partners and providers to target community dwelling seniors and caregivers, including those with memory loss who live alone; primary-care providers and allied health professionals; persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities who develop memory loss; and those with moderate to advanced dementia.

Making Hawaiʻi more dementia-capable

Christy Nishita, acting director of the Center on Aging, is committed to making brain health and dementia an important part of the work there. “We look forward to making the state more dementia-capable and providing valuable and needed support for our Hawaiʻi residents living with cognitive impairment, their families and caregivers,” said Nishita. The Center on Aging will create a new Hawaiʻi Brain Health and Dementia website, a one-stop resource for information, links and information about the grant activities.

Said Erin Long, program officer for the Office of Supportive and Caregiver Services for the Administration on Aging within the Administration for Community Living, “We are very excited to provide financial resources and technical assistance to the UH Center on Aging in support of the expansion of dementia capable services throughout Hawaiʻi. People with dementia and their caregivers have unique and specialized needs as they relate to long-term services and supports, and this project through the Center on Aging will aim to meet those needs over the course of the grant.”

Dementia is a global public health crisis

Dementia is considered a global public health crisis. The need for a cure or prevention of Alzheimer’s is a top focus for scientists and researchers worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Facts and Figures, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 67 seconds. It is estimated that 5.3 million Americans of all ages are living with the disease.

The greatest risk factor for dementia is age, with memory loss affecting almost half of those over age 85. This is significant for Hawaiʻi because of its highest life expectancy of any state, with the elderly growth rate exceeding the national average.

In Hawaiʻi there are 26,000 people aged 65 and older with ADRD. This will grow to 35,000 by 2025, an increase of 34.6 percent. These figures do not include those who are undiagnosed or who develop dementia before age 65. As many as half of those who meet the diagnostic criteria for ADRD have not received a diagnosis from a physician. Furthermore, there are approximately 65,000 dementia caregivers in Hawaiʻi who deliver 73 million hours of unpaid care, who need improved services and support.

Sustainable goals and objectives of the Hawaiʻi project

    1. Increase dementia-capability in Hawaiʻi’s communities by replicating and enhancing the patient-centered medical home (PCHM) model of memory clinics in federally qualified community health community centers.
    2. Enhance long-term services and supports for persons with dementia and their caregivers by implementing a Memory Care Navigators Program, with special focus on persons with cognitive impairment living alone and those who have moderate to advanced stage dementia.
    3. Increase early detection and accurate diagnosis of dementia in high-risk populations, such as individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by training health professionals working with this population.
    4. Cultivate dementia-capability within Hawaiʻi’s workforce and among allied health professionals to improve person- and family-centered care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers into the future by providing dementia-specific training.
    5. Improve the quality of life for those with moderate to advanced dementia by increasing enrollment in hospice and palliative care programs.
    6. Deliver no-cost evidence-based behavioral symptom management training and expert consultation to families and caregivers to prevent unnecessary institutionalization of community dwelling persons with challenging dementia behaviors.

Co-principal Investigators of the grant are Nishita and Ritabelle Fernandes, associate professor, UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Geriatric Medicine.

Source: A UH News story