I was honored to recently attend and help facilitate a very important kickoff meeting in San Antonio, Texas: the Lilly Community Conversations program "Moments that Matter: Improving Outcomes for People with Alzheimer's Disease." This was the fourth Community Conversations event I have participated in nationwide over the past year to help promote energetic discussions among community leaders to achieve improved outcomes for those with Alzheimer's.
The Texas meeting was very well attended and the discussion among community leaders was a testament to the Lone Star State's commitment to tackling the challenges of Alzheimer's disease. The group in this first meeting identified several goals and action items to tackle including:
- Building greater awareness of Alzheimer's disease through public education outreach and enlisting the support of the Mayor and other officials;
- Training for health care professionals on dementia and the importance of detection and diagnosis and providing education for health professionals to share diagnosis and make resource referrals;
- Ensuring information and resources are available in the San Antonio area for family members/caregivers.
In Texas, one in eight of those aged 60 and older report experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or worsening...and nearly 80 percent of those folks have not talked to a health care professional about it.
Lilly's role in the Community Conversations program is simple - to sponsor a series of three meetings to help get an action plan started in a community. This first meeting in San Antonio, hosted by Morningside Ministries and the Alzheimer's Association-San Antonio & South Texas Chapter, saw a phenomenal turnout, with dozens of passionate attendees representing a cross section of groups including city and county leaders, doctors, and elder and home healthcare professionals. Morningside Ministries, as evidenced by its mmLearn.org site, is committed to providing essential online training tools to improve the quality of care received by older adults.
Most of those in attendance in San Antonio agreed that detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's empowers people with the disease and their families to take action, such as optimizing current medical management; maximizing decision-making; and planning for the future.
I am confident that the next two San Antonio meetings will bring success in both short- and long-term action planning to improve outcomes for people with Alzheimer's disease and their care partners. The good news is Texas is already ahead of the game with its Texas State Plan on Alzheimer's, which includes clinical best practices for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of persons with Alzheimer's disease.