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Banner Alzheimer's Institute Native American Outreach Program

Banner Alzheimer's Institute

Phoenix, AZ


Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), a division of Banner Health, was established in 2006 with a threefold mission: To end Alzheimer’s disease without losing a generation; to set a new standard of care for patients and families; and to forge a model of (biomedical) collaboration. The Memory Disorders Center (MDC) provides diagnosis, treatment and on-going care to over 200 patients per month. The Clinical Trials program offers over 20 therapeutic, imaging and quality of life studies involving over 300 patients. The Family and Community Services department provides education, support and practical assistance to every patient and family seen in the MDC or Clinical Trials. BAI collaborates extensively with the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium and numerous community health organizations.

The BAI Native American Outreach Program was established to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among the 22 Arizona Native American (NA) tribal members and health care providers. The program’s goals are to improve diagnosis and treatment and to assist caregivers with the daily challenges in caregiving. Scheduled outreach activities to tribes and an annual conference now in its 6th year have resulted in reaching over 1,500 family and professional caregivers. An 8-DVD featuring three NA families sharing their unique caregiving story has been widely used and distributed along with a 55-page culturally appropriate book Navigating through Memory Loss.

The program first began in 2004 with outreach efforts to the tribes located around the greater Phoenix area. Since 2008, the program has expanded throughout the state of Arizona and been reaching out to three distinct audiences: family caregivers, professional caregivers, and medical providers.

Family caregivers have been significantly impacted by the program’s outreach efforts and the annual conference. The evaluations and follow up with caregivers demonstrate that caregivers learn how to understand and manage challenging behaviors, how to utilize activities to enhance quality of life, and how to identify helpful resources (even on the reservation).

A Native American Outreach Coordinator and Administrative Assistant (both Natives) provide the bulk of staffing for the program. Twelve NA volunteers serve in advisory capacity providing direction to the program while another core group of 15 volunteers design and execute the annual conference. Outreach and education are provided by physicians, nurses and social workers from BAI. The program collaborates with individual tribes to design and execute outreach and training efforts specific to their identified needs. Additional community partners include the larger Native American community in Arizona, the Alzheimer’s Association, Native American Area Agency on Aging, and other medical providers.