Lieutenant Governor Matos and RI Department of Health Release Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders 2024-2029 State Plan

Published on Thursday, February 15, 2024

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI — Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), joined by Governor Dan McKee, Senator Jack Reed, Office of Healthy Aging Director Maria Cimini, and the Alzheimer’s Association of RI, today released the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD) 2024-2029 State Plan. This ambitious plan details 36 strategic recommendations on how to improve the quality of life and accessibility of care for Rhode Islanders with dementia by the end of this decade.

“This State Plan brings together every part of our government to support Rhode Islanders whose lives are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders,” said Lieutenant Governor Matos. “Under this plan, we’re connecting federal, state, and local government resources to build strong communities where people with dementia can thrive. I’m grateful to be able to serve alongside the community leaders and experts on our state’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in coordinating these efforts and carrying on the work started by Governor McKee.”

"Rhode Islanders and their loved ones affected by Alzheimer's or related disorders are at the heart of this new state plan," said Governor McKee. "Giving them the necessary resources and information to enhance their health and well-being is critical. I'm grateful to Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, the Advisory Council, and the dedicated researchers, advocates, and caregivers across our state for crafting a comprehensive plan that promotes inclusion and support."

The Rhode Island ADRD 2024-2029 State Plan was developed by the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders and statewide partners consisting of dedicated researchers, advocates, clinicians, and caregivers. This process resulted in dozens of strategies to empower all individuals impacted by dementia to achieve their best quality of life, including:

  • Creating accessible neighborhoods with walkable sidewalks, greater access to healthy food options, and safer public spaces for people living with dementia
  • Convening a workgroup focused on elevating and addressing issues of health equity in dementia care
  • Working with Rhode Island communities with high prevalence of ADRD to develop action plans that promote age and dementia friendly resources and information that identify local supports for people with dementia and their caregivers.

"I will continue pushing the federal government to invest in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. It’s also critical that Rhode Island continue to focus on effective ways to improve the quality of life for those impacted by dementia and deliver caregiver support,” said Senator Reed. “When it comes to brain health, Rhode Island-based researchers are leading the way. I commend the state for taking an evidence-based approach and developing and refining plans and also raising awareness to reduce risk factors and ensure high-quality assistance for all in need.”

“Rhode Island is on the leading edge of the fight against Alzheimer’s,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “The delegation was pleased to help secure federal funding to support the development of this statewide plan to address a heartbreaking disease that is becoming more common as our population gets older. We need to do everything we can to support Rhode Island families living with Alzheimer’s and research better treatments and hopefully, a cure.”

The RIDOH ADRD Program is funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BOLD Program for a five-year implementation grant, receiving $500,000 for each year of the grant cycle from September 30, 2023 to September 29, 2028. The ADRD program convenes partners and builds strategies to address dementia through a statewide public health approach. This includes working with health system partners to encourage accurate and timely diagnosis, increasing the general public’s awareness about ADRD topics, including educational programming within Health Equity Zone locations where health disparities are recognized, utilizing data to drive community programming, and implementing strategies identified in the 2024-2029 ADRD State Plan.

“Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be difficult, and families facing this diagnosis deserve the resources they need to ensure the best quality of life for their loved ones,” said Rep. Seth Magaziner. “Treating this disease takes a whole-of-government approach — and I’m working closely with my colleagues in the federal delegation and Lt. Governor Matos to expand access to critical programs and services, advocate for quality care, and find a cure.”

“Too many families across our state are plagued by the burden of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It can make even the most mundane tasks a monumental challenge,” said Congressman Gabe Amo. “I am glad our Congressional delegation has worked with our state partners to secure federal funding that is supporting new ways prevent, diagnose, and treat those living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. I hope the comprehensive state plan will help us deliver care to those in Rhode Island who need it most and investing in cutting edge research. By working together, we can make this disease a thing of the past.”

The 2024-2029 ADRD State Plan is an update of the previous five-year ADRD State Plan, which was created under the leadership of then-Lt. Governor Dan McKee using grant funding his office secured. Since then, the state has accomplished the main goals identified in the previous five-year plan: dedicating a full-time employee to coordinate ADRD strategy, promoting ADRD research opportunities in Rhode Island, and including brain health in the state’s other chronic disease management activities.

“Alzheimer’s Disease and related health conditions are major public health issues in Rhode Island,” said Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. “They impact tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders directly, as well as their families and the community as a whole. For that reason, this State Plan takes a comprehensive approach. This includes strategies related to lifestyle modifications, health system and healthcare professional engagement, and the use of data to drive decision-making and tackle health disparities. We look forward to all the good that will come of the new collaborations outlined in this critical State Plan.”

"Although most Rhode Islanders and Americans likely know somebody who is living with Alzheimer’s, if people think it’s not their concern, consider these facts. 1 in 3 senior citizens will die as a result of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Alzheimer’s disease costs the government more than $350 billion per year for care and more, and by 2050, this disease is expected to cost the government alone 1 trillion dollars,” said Donna McGowan, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association of RI. “So, think again if you believe it's none of your business. This killer is all of our business!"

To ensure that the 2024-2029 ADRD State Plan was community-led and inclusive, the RIDOH ADRD Program hosted an in-person strategic planning session at PACE-Rhode Island in July 2023 with nearly 50 attendees representing community-based organizations, people with lived experience, health system partners, academia, and social service agencies.

The 2024-2029 ADRD State Plan is available for all Rhode Islanders to read online here. This is the second in-depth policy report developed and released by Lieutenant Governor Matos’s policy councils, following the 2023 release of Meeting the Housing Needs of Rhode Island’s Older Adults and Individuals with Chronic Disabilities and Illnesses from the Long Term Care Coordinating Council.