Vermont State Alzheimer’s Plan Overview
In 1991, Vermont’s legislature enacted legislation that established the Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), in its efforts to design and develop the State Plan on Dementia, convened a subcommittee of the Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and other aging network providers. This subcommittee was charged with providing guidance for the development of a plan to help state policymakers and stakeholders better understand how the estimated increase in people living with dementia will need to be met with a corresponding increase in resources; including caregivers, specialized care units, respite services and education. During 2007 and 2008, a State Plan on Dementia was developed. Soliciting feedback from community members, direct service providers, and families impacted by Alzheimer’s, the subcommittee published the Vermont State Plan on Dementia in 2009.
In 2022, the state released the 2022-2025 Vermont Action Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementias & Healthy Aging, led by the Vermont Health Department’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program and the State Unit on Aging at DAIL. More than 40 stakeholders, including the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Vermonters with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, were engaged in the process. The new state plan highlights goals that are in alignment with the National Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map and the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. These include enhancing public awareness and engagement; improving data to track progress; and accelerating action to reduce risk factors for dementia.
Vermont 2023 Policy Priorities
Establish a Permanent State Dementia Coordinator
Numerous agencies in the state administer a variety of programs that are critical to the 13,000 Vermonters living with dementia and their families. However, these efforts are often siloed, with multiple state agencies working separately from one another. This lack of coordination is hindering the ability of Vermont to evaluate the effectiveness of policy efforts that serve those living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association is advocating for the establishment of a State Dementia Coordinator position within the Agency of Human Services through a funding request of $125,000. A State Dementia Coordinator will evaluate and expand existing dementia programs and services, identify grant funding opportunities to expand the state’s dementia initiatives, collect and analyze data, and work to ensure the state has a coordinated and effective approach toward addressing Alzheimer’s.
Empower First Responders with Dementia Training
First responders interact with people living with dementia in a variety of settings and are critical to their health and safety. As Alzheimer’s disease often causes individuals to wander and exhibit disruptive behaviors, it is critical for first responders to receive proper training on how to recognize the signs of dementia and how to effectively communicate with these individuals. The Alzheimer’s Association is urging state policymakers to adopt dementia training standards to ensure first responders understand the signs of dementia, effective communication strategies and locating missing people with dementia. Establishing dementia training standards will help ensure, people living with dementia remain safer in communities across the state.
Incorporate Dementia Risk Reduction in Public Health Campaigns
By 2025, the number of Vermonters living with dementia will increase by an astounding 30.8% from 2020. Engaging in certain lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of developing the disease, but public knowledge about cognitive health and risk reduction of dementia have been scarce in Vermont. The Alzheimer’s Association is advocating for the establishment of a public health campaign that highlights the importance of healthy lifestyle changes, brain health, and early detection and diagnosis for dementia. By providing education on these health initiatives, more Vermonters can live a healthier life and reduce their risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
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State Affairs Contact: Megan Polyte
people living with Alzheimer’s in Vermont
Vermonters are providing unpaid care
Medicaid cost of caring for people living with Alzheimer’s (2020)
increase in Alzheimer’s deaths since 2000
in hospice with a primary diagnosis of dementia
increase of geriatricians in Vermont needed to meet the demand in 2050
Resources to Drive Change in Vermont
The following resources developed by AIM and the Alzheimer’s Association will help you learn more about the issues impacting people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, how Vermont policymakers are addressing these gaps, and how you can help drive change.