OSDH launches coalition to battle Alzheimer’s

November 23, 2021 | Headlines

OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 1,700 Oklahomans die from Alzheimer’s disease each year. The Oklahoma State Department of Health today announced it has formed a new statewide coalition to address key issues related to Alzheimer’s disease in Oklahoma, and has begun seeking new members to join the effort.  

The Oklahoma Healthy Brain Initiative Coalition is a collaborative effort to advance public awareness and action related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as a public health issue in Oklahoma. The group’s first task will be to update the 2018-2022 Oklahoma State Plan to address Alzheimer’s disease.  

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually limits the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the fifth leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. Nearly six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Current projections indicate that the number of people with Alzheimer’s will nearly triple in the next 35 years. 

“Oklahoma is working to build a better infrastructure to assist caregivers or someone living with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Morgan Fitzgerald, MPH, Oklahoma Healthy Brain Program Manager. “We have a strong core group of professionals engaged in the coalition now, and are looking to add individuals who have provided care – or are currently providing care – for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, as well as those who have been diagnosed with the disease themselves.”  

Anyone interested in joining The Oklahoma Healthy Brain Initiative Coalition should email Morgan Fitzgerald at morgan.fitzgerald@health.ok.gov for more information. 

More than 14 percent of Oklahomans over age 45 (1 in 7) report they are experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or getting worse, and about 50 percent of them have not talked to a healthcare professional about it.  

Following are the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease: 

1 Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2 Challenges in planning or solving problems 

3 Difficulty completing familiar tasks  

4 Confusion with time or place 

5 Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships 

6 New problems with words in speaking or writing 

7 Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps 

8 Decreased or poor judgement 

9 Withdrawal from work or social activities 

10 Changes in mood or personality 

If you or someone you love is experiencing some of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, call the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at (405) 426-8300 or email centerta@health.ok.gov to learn more about the disease and the support services available.  

There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease may also reduce risk for cognitive decline and possibly dementia.