Emerging issues: Alzheimer’s disease in Indian Country

study in a 2016 edition of the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that cases of dementia were second highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives, behind only African Americans. The 2016 CMS report, Emerging LTSS Issues in Indian Country: Alzheimer’s and Dementia, discusses this trend and what support caregivers need to continue providing high-quality care and avoid burning out.

Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging (PDF, 888 KB, 10 pp) is a guide for caregivers who care for family members or others with Alzheimer’s disease at home. This guide offers caregivers many tips on how to:

  • Understand how Alzheimer’s disease changes a person
  • Get help with caregiving
  • Help family and friends understand Alzheimer’s disease and
  • Plan for the future

The guide is based on the experiences of caregivers and medical research funded by the National Institute on Aging.

For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center.

Caregiver support

Native cultures emphasize respect for elders and a need to care for them. The LTSS TA Center offers resources to help tribes and tribal health providers support caregivers in providing care for the elderly.

LTSS Research: Annotated Literature Review – Caregiver Support in Indian Country(PDF, 591 KB, 40 pp) includes information about caregiver support, ranging from funding to training for caregivers.

The LTSS TA Center also features a profile of the Oneida Nation Elder Services(PDF, 187 KB, 2 pp), which supports caregivers through partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and by training caregivers who serve elders with dementia.

In case you missed it: A past webinar on improving dementia care

Webinar: LTSS in our CommunityAbout half of the people with dementia are never treated, and most who receive treatment are not diagnosed during the early stages of the illness. Watch the recording of the CMS webinar “Tribal Nursing Homes: Improving Dementia Care” to learn how American Indians and Alaska Natives view dementia. The presenters also discuss how to incorporate effective dementia care practices and protocols into your health care facility.

Additional Resources

Hospice care in Indian Country

CMS recently released an updated report on hospice care in tribal communities, LTSS Research: Hospice in Indian Country (PDF, 991 KB, 11 pp). Hospice care helps provide comfort for patients with chronic or terminal illnesses who are nearing the end of life. It is usually offered to patients who are no longer seeking a cure for their illnesses and have life expectancies of 6 months or fewer.

The recent research explored in this 2017 report reaffirms the need to address barriers to compassionate, culturally appropriate hospice care in Indian Country. Specifically, it emphasizes the importance of honoring Native cultural values and traditions as a key step for reducing these barriers.

In line with the 2017 CMS report findings, a guide from the National Institute on Aging, End of Life: Helping with Comfort and Care, discusses the importance of relaying cultural customs to health care providers. The report provides information for caregivers about making health care decisions for people who are nearing the end of life and who may be unable to make their own decisions.

A snapshot of the infographic 'Caring for those nearing end-of-life: Providing compassion and dignity for our elders.' Providing culturally sensitive end-of-life care to elders Beliefs about death are sacred and personal, involving different customs, traditions, and religions. Programs designed by tribes can: Address pain and death in ways that are mentally and spiritually healing; balance Medicare's hospice requirement of a prognosis of less than 6 months of life with cultural views discouraging planning for death; help non-tribal medical professionals navigate language barriers, cultural beiliefs about discussing death, appropriate behaviors regarding touch and eye contact.   The full infographic can be found at https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/American-Indian-Alaska-Native/AIAN/LTSS-TA-Center/pdf/CMS_Hospice_Infographic_508.pdf

Funding opportunity: Reducing harm among the elderly

Reducing harm among elderly Native populations is a public health and human rights issue. The Administration for Community Living’s funding opportunity, Elder Justice Innovation Grants, will help 5 programs develop evidence-based strategies to help protect elders.

The 2-year grants will range from $350,000 to $500,000. Applications are due by August 14, 2017.

Through this funding opportunity, programs can work to build evidence-based practices to reduce harm. Collecting and understanding data is key to developing successful policies and practices for Adult Protective Services Systems. For information about data analysis in your community, watch the CMS webinar on caring for your community by knowing the numbers.

Memory Care Forum Fall Conference

Sept. 14–15, 2017
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, San Diego, CA
Learn more and register

The Institute for Advancement of Senior Care’s fall conference will cover dementia care topics like family traning and intervention, caring for dementia patients with histories of trauma, creating dementia-friendly environments, safe dining, and more.