Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Embedding Early Identification for Cognitive Impairment Into New York State’s Aging Services System

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

March 13, 2024


Central NY


In Progress



In New York State, more than 410,000 older New Yorkers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and 50,000 more older adults are projected to develop the condition by 2025.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection allows for treatment to manage symptoms and disease progression; enables older adults to make their own care decisions before cognitive decline; and promotes planning to maximize independence and quality of life. But there are many gaps in identifying older New Yorkers at risk, and too many do not receive proper support until they are in crisis. These negative effects are particularly acute for people with low income, people of color, and rural New Yorkers. New York State’s Office for the Aging sites are well-positioned to be part of the solution. Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute, in partnership with SUNY Upstate’s Department of Geriatrics and with support from the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, launched a successful pilot in 2019 to train case managers from the Onondaga County Office for Aging to administer an evidence-based tool to screen for early signs of cognitive impairment. In 2024, NYHealth awarded the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RFSUNY) and SUNY Upstate a grant to expand and embed this comprehensive screening and referral model for early cognitive impairment into New York State’s Office for the Aging sites throughout Central New York. Syracuse University will lead the project’s evaluation.

Under this grant, SUNY Upstate and Syracuse University will build on the success of the pilot and partner with the Office for the Aging to embed the screening and referral protocols into case managers’ workflows at sites in seven additional counties in Central New York. It will train case managers and site staff to screen clients using an evidence-based tool to assess for early signs of cognitive impairment and dementia. Each office will formalize a referral system with SUNY Upstate’s Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD) to refer older adults who screen positive for cognitive impairment for a comprehensive evaluation. Using evaluation findings and feedback from participating sites, SUNY Upstate will create a publicly available training manual and video and share results with policymakers, area agencies on aging, and others to support the replication of the program.