Tennessee among states noticing significant shortages in dementia care workforce

WSMV's Justina Latimer reports.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 8:22 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow in years to come, the need for more people in the dementia care workforce is also increasing.

“It’s scary,” said Lee Ann Hyatt, executive director of We Remember You.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, shortages of geriatricians and neurologists have remained a major challenge.

In a recent report released by the organization, 20 states were labeled as “dementia neurology deserts.” That means they are projected to have less than 10 neurologists per 10,000 people with dementia by 2025.

Tennessee was included in the 20 states.

“We are having a lot of problems with that because I know here in Rutherford County, we got a very short list of those that are geriatricians and neurologists that really do the best job of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” explained Hyatt.

As the executive director of We Remember You, Hyatt has seen it first hand. Her organization provides education and support for caregivers like Emily Frye.

“You give up so much when you take on that role,” Frye said.

Taking on that role while her father was living with dementia opened her eyes. She believes as time goes on the need for caregivers will continue.

“As we age, we are going to need help,” Frye said. “People don’t have as many children and it’s just so expensive.”

With this tough reality, Hyatt emphasizes the importance of having support.

“We can exchange resources as well,” Hyatt said. “We can talk about who are the physicians that are doing a really good job and who are the ones honestly we try to tell them to avoid.”