Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Registry: Georgia’s Blueprint for the Future

March 30, 2015

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are currently more than 130,000 Georgians living with Alzheimer’s disease and that by 2025 that number will grow to 160,000. The impact on Georgians is staggering – physically, emotionally and financially.

The cost to Medicare for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other related dementias already nears half a billion dollars in Georgia. Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers have more than $9.3 billion in additional health care costs of their own.

What we don’t know is the exact number of individuals there are in Georgia with Alzheimer’s disease or where they live or how their needs are being met, or if their needs are being met. Without that critical data, how does the state and the medical community at large prepare for a growing aging population?

In 2013, the Georgia Legislature created the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (GARD) State Plan Task Force. The task force was charged with creating a state Alzheimer’s disease plan. A key recommendation of the plan was the development of a state registry due to the lack of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias data in Georgia.

It is a critical issue being experienced by states throughout the country and abroad.

Last week, the 2015 Aging in America Conference presented by the American Society on Aging was held in Chicago. More than 2,500 people participated in the largest multidisciplinary conference covering issues of aging and quality of life for older adults.

Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) shared information about the state’s plans for implementation of the Georgia Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Registry.

Administered by DPH, the data entered into the registry will be used to assist with elder care planning in Georgia, identify epidemiological trends, bring awareness at the state level of issues that affect healthy aging, and inform stakeholders for future implementation needs.

“By evaluating and reporting the demographic scope of the registry data, we hope to increase the potential for positive statewide health outcomes and influence the management of associated health care costs,” Fitzgerald told conference attendees.

The registry and its online portal for submitting data launched last week making Georgia one of only four states in the country with an Alzheimer’s disease registry. It will be populated by a mix of existing data sources from health plans and government repositories, including Medicare and Medicaid, and patient information reported by physicians.

Dementia is a devastating disease that causes changes in one’s memory, behavior, and ability to think clearly – it is not a normal part of the aging process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), age is the best-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.

Statistically, dementia will eventually impact every region, every county and family in the state of Georgia. The Georgia Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Registry along with the state Alzheimer’s disease plan will help ensure that people with dementia, their families, and caregivers have ready access to information, support and services so they never have to feel they’re facing Alzheimer’s alone.

For more information about the Alzheimer’s disease registry, visit

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December 1, 2014

The Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association awarded Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the Forget-Me-Not Award last week for her work on the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan.  The Alzheimer’s state plan is a multi-year initiative created to ensure Georgia is dementia-capable, or better equipped to fulfill the needs of those living with dementia and their families, caregivers and medical professionals.