New report: Significantly more workers needed in Virginia to care for growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 17:25:42-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Those with elderly parents or grandparents may feel uneasy after hearing the latest about Alzheimer’s and care for those with the disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association just released its 2022 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report. It gives an in-depth look at the latest statistics and information on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, mortality, costs of care and impact on caregivers across the country and in Virginia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease increases in Virginia, experts in the field say - so does the need for members of the paid dementia care workforce who are involved in diagnosing, treating, and caring for those living with the disease.

The new report states that primary care physicians, who are caring for people living with Alzheimer’s, report there are not enough dementia care specialists, including geriatricians, in their communities to meet patient demands.

Experts say the shortage of specialists is a barrier to a timely and accurate diagnosis, and a lack of diagnosis means a delay in treatments, care delivery, and supportive services.

  • According to the report, In Virginia, there currently are 113 geriatricians. By 2050, that number will need to increase by 259% to 406 geriatricians to serve 10% of Virginians age 65 and older. To serve 30% of Virginians age 65+, that number must increase by a staggering 978% to 1,218 geriatricians.
  • There are 52,990 home health and personal care aides in Virginia, but we need to increase that number by 36% percent to 72,040 by 2028 to meet projected care demands.

Dr. Hamid Okhravi, MD, Associate Professor of Geriatrics with Eastern Virginia Medical School says he hopes more will be done to address the unmet need.

"Every state, there is a shortage for geriatricians and behavioral neurologists that can diagnose," said Dr. Okhravi. "I think we need to make changes in terms of incentives. Make this field or maybe neurology much more attractive to younger physicians."

EVMS is conducting several studies and trials related to dementia and Alzheimer's. To find out more information, click here.

Dawn Brown of Virginia Beach said her father died from Alzheimer's disease and that her mother has dementia.

"I was very close to my father, and it was really hard going up there and he couldn’t even say my name," Brown described.

Brown volunteers with the Alzheimer's Association in an effort to raise awareness and to learn about the latest medical treatments and research. She wants others dealing with this disease to know they are not alone and support is available.

The Alzheimer’s Association has a hotline that’s open 24 hours, 7 days a week. 1-800-272-3900.

Click here for more information.