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Placer County Public Health has been selected by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Association of County and City Health Officials as an inaugural grantee for the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map Strategists initiative – one of eight county recipients nationwide, and the only recipient in California. The new $41,219 in grant funding – on top of the county’s original $750,000 HBI grant – will be used to create a committee to improve early Alzheimer’s detection and screening efforts in Placer County.

“Placer County has an aging community, and this grant is recognition of the progress we’ve already made to improve supports for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and of the opportunities for us to do even more great work in this space,” said Placer County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Rob Oldham. “I’m excited to see this spur further innovation.”

Since receiving the original HBI grant in early 2020, Public Health has launched a number of programs, including the Project Lifesaver effort with Lincoln and Auburn law enforcement partners, which helps officers more quickly locate someone who has wandered away from home. The HBI program has also partnered with the Placer County Regional Transit Planning Authority to develop and implement dementia-friendly trainings for transit operators.

Through the new grant, the division will designate a part-time HBI road map strategist, who will work in support and coordination with public health partners across the community.

“It is no surprise that Placer County received this competitive award to enhance their strategy in addressing the needs of the community. They have a history in the state of California of prioritizing older adults, people living with dementia and family caregivers, and are now viewed as national public health leaders on Alzheimer’s disease and other all dementia,” said Alexandra Weisberg, director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter.

Placer County Public Health was one of eight grantees in the inaugural cohort. Other recipients were located in Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington.

People living with dementia and their family caregivers require support as cognitive, behavioral and physical functioning worsens over time. A strategic public health response is needed to mitigate this impact on all communities, and the addition of the HBI strategist will help to improve the county’s response.

One in nine people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Placer County is an aging community, with 22% of the population being 65 and older – with a projected additional 62% increase by 2025. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death in Placer County. As the Placer County population continues to age, community services and infrastructure must be adapted and made supportive to meet changing needs. To learn more about this initiative and supportive community resources visit the Placer County Healthy Brain Initiative’s website.