73: Alzheimer’s Strategy

Dr. Alexis Travis, Michigan’s Senior Deputy Director at the Department of Health and Human Services, explains her focus on caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; Janet Hamilton, Executive Director of the Council of State and...

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Dr. Alexis Travis, Michigan’s Senior Deputy Director at the Department of Health and Human Services, explains her focus on caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias; Janet Hamilton, Executive Director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, shares the advice she gives her members about inconsistent funding for public health initiatives; Josh Berry, Analyst for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at ASTHO, offers his “thankful” note to celebrate Public Health Thank You Day.

CDC webpage: Healthy Brain Initiative – Road Map for State and Local Public Health

AFA webpage: November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

ASTHO webpage: Public Health Review Podcast

APHA webpage: Public Health Thank You Day

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, November 29th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

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


Over the next 28 years, the number of adults aged 65 and older will almost double from about 46 million today to almost 90 million in 2050.

Dr. Alexis Travis has done a lot of work on aging issues—most recently, leading Michigan's Aging and Adult Services Agency. Now, she's the state's senior deputy director at the Department of Health and Human Services. The title is new, but she remains focused on the looming challenge of an aging population and helping older people with conditions like Alzheimer's and other dementias.


So, Michigan is really breaking ground by prioritizing people living with HIV and dementia for programming. Both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Aging Agencies are working with the Alzheimer's Association and the University of Michigan to begin a strategic collaboration around clinical and community response for Michiganers living with HIV and experiencing cognitive decline, and we've been able to really use our Ryan White rebate dollars to be able to support some of that work.


Businesses are a key piece of the strategy, but Dr. Travis says at first some weren't certain about their role in her plan.


When we went in for that meeting, they were kind of confused as to why we would like to meet with them. And then, when we got further into that conversation, they began to realize that dementia is an issue that employers would care a lot about.


Dr. Travis says the strategy follows a life course approach to public health.


It's thinking about, you know, prevention right through to when something needs intervention and, you know, the ways that we can blend and braid funding between program areas.

I spoke today about how we made that collaboration between the HIV program and the Aging and Adult Services programs—two areas in the department that really didn't use to come together—and we're using different types of funding to be able to move the work forward. So, that's one way that I do it.

And then, the other piece is that cross-sector collaboration and bringing together different minds around coalition tables is really another way that we can proactively and innovatively address public health issues as they arise.

And so, those are two of the ways that I think I really enjoy, you know, addressing some of the public health issues that we see.



For decades, public health leaders have managed many up and down funding cycles driven by our response to the latest crisis. While the federal government has allocated billions of dollars to fight COVID-19, officials have been careful to make wise spending decisions, knowing the money may not last.

Janet Hamilton, executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, advises her members to think about the funding this way.


So, with whatever dollars that come down, how can those dollars be used not just to support COVID, but to really think about, "Well, if COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, this means I can be building infrastructure for all respiratory diseases. If COVID-19 is associated with outbreaks, how am I building my infrastructure for all outbreaks?"

And I think—and hope—that we will see some more commitment to support public health in that long-term way.


Hamilton discusses public health funding in a new episode of the Public Health Review Podcast, coming soon everywhere you stream audio.


Finally this morning, we continue our month-long celebration of Public Health Thank You Day with another thankful note, this one from ASTHO's Josh Berry.


Last year around Thanksgiving time, when it was pretty stressful for me figuring out, you know, my travel, about where I was going to be for Thanksgiving, and you know, what was going to be the safest opportunity to spend time with family and still take care of myself and those who I love.

And you know, we're not out of the woods yet, but it's a little bit different this time around, where folks are vaccinated and feel a little bit safer, more confident about making good decisions, about being able to see family and being able to travel in a safe fashion.

And so, I know we didn't get here just by accident. There are a lot of people working hard to helping to keep us safe.



Remember every story in this newscast has a link to follow for more information—those can be found in the show notes.

That'll do it for today's report.


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Be sure to join us again tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

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

Alexis Travis PhD

Senior Deputy Director at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Janet Hamilton MPH

Executive Director, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

Joshua Berry MPH

Analyst, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, ASTHO