NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Alzheimer’s disease is expected to spike nationwide in future years, and according to new data released by the Alzheimer’s Association, there is a significant shortage in the dementia care workforce.
Tennessee is coined as a “dementia neurology desert,” along with 19 other states.
“There are beautiful moments in caring for the loved one that you are losing,” Carolyn Berry said.
Berry lost both her grandmother and mother to Alzheimer’s.
“And we were really lucky that we had an expansive family interaction with her,” Berry said.
However, when it came to the diagnosis, Berry shared the following explanation: “We started suspecting some things in her late 60s, had her tested when she was 70, the testing come back that she was on par with her age, which was not correct.
“With the lack of neurologists, folks with a specialty in this area, the diagnosis are often delayed,” said Kevin Fehr, president and CEO of Amada Senior Care.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2020, approximately 120,000 people were living with Alzheimer’s in Tennessee. In 2025, that number is expected to increase by 140,000.
“It is a very difficult task to hire and retain qualified caregivers in this area, partially because it’s a lower-paying job,” Fehr said.
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Fehr’s agency focuses on at-home care, specifically for clients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
He said in recent years, at-home care has been falling on loved ones with a statewide shortage in the dementia care workforce.
The Alzheimer’s Association reported over 360,000 unpaid caregivers in Tennessee in 2022.
As for Berry, she said this is a harsh reality that more education, research and training needs to be done.
“You can see the challenge the healthcare is receiving in general but specifically Alzheimer’s and dementia care,” Fehr said.