138: New Healthy Aging Toolkit

Talyah Sands, ASTHO’s Director of Health Improvement, describes a new toolkit to help public health agencies assess cognitive health needs and promote healthy aging; ASTHO plans two webinars later today to explain its upcoming 2022 Profile of State...

Spotify podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge

Talyah Sands, ASTHO’s Director of Health Improvement, describes a new toolkit to help public health agencies assess cognitive health needs and promote healthy aging; ASTHO plans two webinars later today to explain its upcoming 2022 Profile of State and Territorial Public Health; and Equal Hope in Chicago sponsors a TikTok video contest for young people making videos about the COVID-19 vaccine.

ASTHO Resource: Needs Assessment Toolkit for Dementia, Cognitive Health, and Caregiving

ASTHO Briefing: Assessing Needs Toolkit

ASTHO Webinar: Responding to the 2022 ASTHO Profile Survey 3 p.m. EDT Event

ASTHO Webinar: Responding to the 2022 ASTHO Profile Survey 7 p.m. EDT Event

Equal Hope TikTok COVID-19 Vaccine Contest


ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, March 15th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


A new tool kit to help public health agencies assess cognitive health needs and promote healthy aging is now available for download. ASTHO created the tool kit in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association. Talyah Sands was part of ASTHO's team on the project. She describes the kit and its purpose in today's morning conversation.

Why did ASTHO produce this toolkit?


ASTHO produced this toolkit in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Association because there is a growing rate of dementia in our nation, and the public health community is increasingly seeing that that's something we need to get in front of. And so, needs assessments—which the toolkit focuses on—are often a first step for a public health agency and partners to figure out how do we address dementia in our community, and what's the picture of dementia caregiving and cognitive health issues in our particular jurisdiction or community.


Who would benefit from the toolkit?


State and local public health agencies, aging agencies, community health and hospital systems, and other community leaders would greatly benefit from this toolkit. Sometimes there's a state Alzheimer's planning group that this may be relevant to as well. In a health department, it might be someone who's working on healthy aging or dementia if there is someone designated for that; otherwise, it might be someone who is wearing multiple hats and working in the chronic disease prevention unit or injury prevention or community health. It would also be relevant for performance improvement staff who would be interested in this particular type of assessment for dementia, cognitive health, and caregiving to inform other assessment and planning efforts for the agency overall.

And so, the hope is that the assessment process would inform a jurisdiction or agency's planning that might be specific to the Healthy Brain Initiative itself, or it might be leading more into a more global plan, like a state health improvement plan or a state Alzheimer's plan or something else.


We'll have a link to the tool kit in the show notes; but for this conversation, can you give us a little overview? Tell us what it includes.


The toolkit starts off with an introduction and background that makes a case for why assessing dementia, cognitive health, and caregiving is important for individuals and communities. And really, the heart of the toolkit is in the five steps for conducting a needs assessment specific to dementia, cognitive health, and caregiving.

Each step has its own page. So, really it's about five pages of, like, where the meat is. It's intended to be very easy to follow and modular in design so that someone who's coming in—maybe they're already part of the way through some of the steps just naturally—they can jump in at any stage depending on what they have going on. And at every step there are practical tips for operationalizing health equity within the needs assessment process, such as by including community members who are most impacted by dementia in the process.

It doesn't stop there, though. There are a number of tools that are housed in an appendix of the toolkit—a total of 13. We provide worksheets for those, as well as an Excel spreadsheet, depending on the user's preferences. We also offer a list of potential data sources so that folks don't have to start from scratch as they embark on the assessment process.


Speaking of numbers, it's comprehensive—it's 33 pages long. How much work was involved putting it together?


In short, a lot. A group of three ASTHO staff worked together to develop the toolkit throughout 2021, but we did not go at it alone. It was something that was a true team effort within ASTHO, with our partners at the Alzheimer's Association, and many others who provided input.

We started out having a virtual consultation with state and local public health and aging staff to get their input on the content and the format to make it very user-friendly for them. And then, we got input from 27 informers and reviewers along the way, including from state and local public health aging agencies, national organizations. And then, we did do some internal review within ASTHO and Alzheimer's Association, engaging staff across various departments.

We've reconciled more than 1600 comments to include all of those experts and their voices in the toolkit and make it what it is today.


Interested agencies can get a briefing on the tool kit during a webinar planned for Tuesday, March 29th at 1:30 PM Eastern time. Registration is recommended.

Get the toolkit and sign up for the briefing using the links in the show notes.


ASTHO needs all state and territorial health departments to complete its 2022 Profile of State and Territorial Public Health. The information gathered will help ASTHO better advocate for sustainable public health funding on Capitol Hill.

The survey begins April 4th, but two webinars scheduled for later today will explain the process. The webinars are set for 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM Eastern time. Register using the links in the show notes.


Finally today, young people who make a TikTok video promoting the COVID-19 vaccine could win a thousand dollar prize for their work. Dr. Anne Marie Murphy from Equal Hope in Chicago explains the contest.


So, we have a competition that will give up to a thousand dollars to the young person that makes the most engaging TikTok video that promotes COVID-19 vaccination. So, we're excited about that. And there are some really great TikToks made, they're very engaging; but I will say, you know, TikTok operates—you and I might look at it and we might wonder about it and why different ones are funny—but the kids, they find them incredibly engaging.


If you know someone between 14 and 24 years old who'd like to enter the contest, you can share the link to the entry form in the show notes.


Before we go, we want to remind you to leave us a rating and a review—they help raise our profile and that makes it easier for new listeners to find us online. Also, if you follow the show, you'll never miss a single report. You can do all of this on the channel you're listening to right now.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We are back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Talyah Sands MPH

Director, Health Improvement, ASTHO

Anne Marie Murphy PhD

Executive Director, Equal Hope