Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a libertarian point of view.Full Bio


Alzheimer's Assoc - We needs qualified healthcare workers

The Alzheimer’s Association 2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report finds a shortage looming for health care specialists and direct dementia care workers in Ohio and across the country. The shortage of dementia care specialists could soon become a crisis for Alzheimer’s disease care.

“Ohio’s population is aging. According to the Ohio Department of Aging, Ohio has 2.5 million residents over the age of 60, and our 60-plus population is growing more than 20 times faster than our overall population,” said Annemarie Barnett, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Cincinnati and Miami Valley Chapters. “As the older population expands, so too will the numbers of those living with dementia.”

“Unfortunately, there are not currently enough trained dementia specialists and direct care workers to support those living with Alzheimer’s, and we must address this issue now to be in a position to support the increased numbers of families who will need dementia care,” Barnett continued.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2023 Facts and Figures Report, direct care workers – including nurse aides, nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides – play a vital role in caring for people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in private homes, community-based settings like adult day services, and residential care and skilled nursing homes. 

“The report sounds an important alarm on the urgent need to attract and retain these essential front-line care workers,” said Barnett. “These valuable professionals are not only providing direct care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, but they are vital in supporting family caregivers, particularly for those who care for their loved ones at home.”

The report says Ohio had 95,560 direct care workers in 2020 and needed an additional 24% by 2030 to meet demand — more new workers than in any other single occupation in the United States.

In addition, the immediate need for specialists, such as geriatricians and neurologists that are necessary to care for the aging Ohio population, remains a major challenge. An estimated 250,000 individuals in Ohio are projected to have Alzheimer’s by 2025. In Ohio, there were only 163 geriatricians in 2021 and by 2050 that number will need to increase to 537 (229.4%) to meet the care demands of 10 percent of the projected number of Ohioans age 65 and older with the disease.

The annual Facts and Figures report provides an in-depth look at the latest national and state-by-state statistics on Alzheimer’s disease prevalence, mortality, caregiving, dementia care workforce and costs of care. According to the report, there are 6.7 million people 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, including 220,000 in Ohio. 

Special report finds sooner discussion of cognitive concerns needed

An accompanying special report, The Patient Journey in an Era of New Treatments, offers new insights from patients and primary care physicians (PCPs) on current barriers that impede earlier discussion of cognitive concerns. Focus groups reveal many people with subjective cognitive decline (self-reported memory concerns) do not discuss cognitive symptoms with their health care providers. 

Previous special reports have indicated many people believe their experiences are related to normal aging, rather than a potential diagnosable medical condition. Some of the reasons for not discussing include: 

  • Patients lack knowledge and awareness of cognitive health issues.
  • Patients have great tolerance for their symptoms, leading them to delay discussions with their physicians.
  • Patients are waiting for the problem to have a meaningful impact on their life first, suggesting that the problem is serious and not normal aging.

In addition to reluctance from individuals, the report revealed PCPs also are not proactively asking their patients about cognitive issues. PCPs hesitate to initiate conversations about cognitive decline and will wait until family members bring it to their attention. 

  • PCPs expressed concern about how people will be cared for if an assessment uncovers Alzheimer's or other dementia in light of specialist shortages and few referral options.
  • PCPs view family members as influential and critical partners in care, often relying on them to initiate conversations about memory and thinking problems they observe in their loved ones.

“This special report is timely and reflects the need for a dedicated statewide public awareness campaign in Ohio that will empower individuals and primary care physicians to better identify and address cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s,” said Trey Addison, Director of Public Policy at the Alzheimer's Association in Ohio.

“We are encouraging the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Aging to create and administer outreach programs aimed to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia (ADOD) to healthcare professionals and Ohio residents. We will need to educate the general public about Alzheimer's and other dementia and work to develop a well-trained workforce to support the people living with the disease. In my mind, the two must go hand and hand as Ohio's dementia population increases."

The Alzheimer’s Association offers a 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900), which is available 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public. All local chapter services, including educational programs, support groups care and support are available free to the community.

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