South Dakota Department of Health Announces Development of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Prevention Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2023

South Dakota Department of Health Announces Development of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Prevention Program

PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Health (DOH) will be developing and implementing a new prevention program to help South Dakotans reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementias (ADRD). The department will use best practices and optimize evidence-based strategies to create a bold and sustainable public health approach in addressing this ever-growing issue in South Dakota.

“Because of Governor Noem’s support and encouragement and assistance from the Department of Human Services, we were able to accomplish a huge win for South Dakota,” said Department of Health Secretary, Melissa Magstadt. “Alzheimer’s Disease is the fifth leading cause of death in South Dakota and this funding will allow the department to provide education and resources to our citizens that can help with this devastating disease.”

The DOH will collaborate with the Alzheimer’s Association South Dakota Chapter; SDSU Extension; the Better Choices, Better Health SD program; other state agencies; and healthcare industry partners to establish a coalition to reduce the burden of ADRD through a prevention-focused public health approach aligned with the Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Brain Initiative. The coalition will assist the department with improving public health infrastructure and increasing capacity in the field, as well as increasing awareness of the disease and improving access to resources for individuals and caregivers affected by ADRD. 

The DOH received a five-year federal Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure (BOLD) grant for $1.25 million to aid in the department’s development and implementation of a prevention program centered around ADRD. This is the first time South Dakota has received a grant of this kind.

"We are excited that the South Dakota DOH has received this BOLD grant to further enable the state to improve the public health approach to brain health and dementia risk reduction,” said Leslie Morrow, State Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association South Dakota. “The Alzheimer’s Association is looking forward to collaborating closely with the DOH and other coalition members to implement robust public health strategies aligned with the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map to improve the state’s response to dementia.”  

Age is the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, with adults 65 years and older being at the most risk for developing the disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). As the older population in SD continues to grow, the risk and outcome of them developing Alzheimer’s Disease increases. There were an estimated 18,000 residents 65 years and older who were living with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2020 (Alzheimer’s Association, 2022).

At the heart of the Department of Health’s mission is a simple yet profound goal: to protect and improve the health of all South Dakotans. The department is entrusted with the vital task of promoting wellness, preventing disease and ensuring access to quality healthcare for all South Dakotans across our great state.