LISTEN: Family caregivers are at higher risk of emotional stress, depression and other health problems. But a group with the Georgia Department of Public Health is focusing on solutions. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge has more.

Grey tabby cat sleeping on person's arm

More than 140,000 people in Georgia are living with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Credit: Matthias Zomer / Pexels

An annual report released by the Alzheimer's Association reveals the burden of Alzheimer's and other diseases of dementia is a growing public health crisis in Georgia. 

The impact extends to individuals, caregivers, government and the nation's health care system.  

But the state has a plan. 

The Georgia Alzheimer's Disease & Related Dementias Task Force has since 2014 sought ways to improve dementia research, awareness, training, and supportive care. 

Data from 2018 show that of the 10.8 million people in the state, 140,000 Georgians were living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. That number is projected to be 190,000 or more by 2025, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.  

Xavier Crockett, the Division of Health Protection director, said the state knows there is a lack of health care access, particularly in rural Georgia. 

“We're bringing public health into this systematic approach to Alzheimer's and dementia-related diseases by reducing the risk to dementia residents in Georgia,” Crockett said. “[Not only through] early detection and access, but also supporting our caregivers, the ones who are actually doing the day-to-day work with these residents.” 

Deputy Director of Injury Prevention Elizabeth Head added that the state is partnering with organizations that educate and support family caregivers. 

Many family members caring for someone with dementia are struggling and hungry for knowledge, Head said. 

“A trained leader takes individuals through six weeks of caregiving issues,” Head said. “Both directed at issues you may face as a caregiver while caring for your loved one, but also turning it inward in the care that you need to provide for yourself as a caregiver.” 

Emory University is currently testing its Tele-Savvy program, which would allow people to access the program from home, Head said.