Aging Research Summer 2015

Alzheimer’s in North Carolina: Task Force on Alzheimer’s

Students in the Master of Public Policy program at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy spent part of their spring semester examining a policy issue for the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

The students investigated Alzheimer’s disease in North Carolina, looking at the rates of the disease, caregiving options for patients, and also looked to other states to learn about different options for comprehensive plans.

The students’ report, which includes recommendations for action in our state, is presented in this series of blog posts. Today’s post provides a brief overview of the N.C. Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease. Stay tuned next week for information about Alzheimer’s plans in other states. Read previous posts here:

Part One in the series provides an introduction to Alzheimer’s disease and an overview of prevalence rates

Part Two discusses caregiving options

Part Three takes a look at programs and services supporting Alzheimer’s patients in N.C.

Part Four outlines how coverage for Alzheimer’s care continues to change, and touches on mental health reform in the state

Part Five takes a specific look at Alzheimer’s mortality rates in North Carolina counties


                North Carolina Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the creation of a Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease to make recommendations to the state on creating a state plan. DHHS requested that the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) identify key stakeholders to serve on the Task Force. The first meeting of the Task Force was held on March 27th, 2015 at the NCIOM. The 45 members of the Task Force include politicians, academics, caregivers, long-term care managers, representatives of state agencies, nonprofit directors, directors of county health departments, and community-based service providers.

The first meeting laid the groundwork for the remaining nine meetings to be held over the course of a year. Particular attention was paid to Minnesota’s ACT on Alzheimer’s program, in part because ACT is not state-funded. While many Task Force members expressed frustration over current funding levels for Alzheimer’s programs in North Carolina, the focus of the Task Force is to develop a set of recommendations that will not necessarily require new appropriations in the state budget.

Lisa Roberts, Executive Director of the Eastern North Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Task Force member, said that the Task Force was a “great start for North Carolina.” Roberts expressed hope that North Carolina would be able to significantly improve Alzheimer’s services with new state funding, but she notes that North Carolina has some large corporate leaders like SAS and Quintiles whose expertise could help advance Alzheimer’s research and data collection.

Alice Watkins, Task Force Steering Committee member and Director of Alzheimer’s North Carolina, said that she hopes the Task Force will establish basic care guidelines for people with dementia, especially for in-home care agencies and long term care facilities. Additionally, she feels that dementia-specific training should be required in NC medical schools for primary care physicians. Watkins said that the top priorities in improving Alzheimer’s care over the long run should be better research and enhanced support for caregivers, including better access to respite care and other social services.


The Task Force, a partnership between the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Institute of Medicine, convenes once a month through December 2015. For more information about the Task Force and meetings, visit this page.

Note: Click here to read about two studies that researched the effect of exercise on Alzheimer’s disease. The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this month, and one study was performed by researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine.


Note: Here is information about this student project, provided by the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.

This student presentation was prepared during the spring of 2015 in partial completion of the requirements for PUBPOL 804, a course in the Master of Public Policy Program at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. The research, analysis, policy alternatives, and recommendations contained in this report are the work of the student team that authored the report, and do not represent the official or unofficial views of the Sanford School of Public Policy or of Duke University. Without the specific permission of its authors, this report may not be used or cited for any purpose other than to inform the client organization about the subject matter. The authors relied in many instances on data provided to them by the client and related organizations and make no independent representations as to the accuracy of the data.


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Alzheimer’s in North Carolina: At the County Level

by Judson Bonick, Rose Kerber, Lauren Oliver, & Ariadne Rivera on July 22, 2015

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Alzheimer’s in North Carolina: Comparing Other State Plans

by Judson Bonick, Rose Kerber, Lauren Oliver, & Ariadne Rivera on July 29, 2015