By Barbara McKinney, ADAW Diversity Outreach Program Coordinator
The 2022 Black History Month National theme is “Black Health and Wellness.”How far have we come? How does race impact the risk of dementia?
Research cites many conditions that increase the risk of dementia: high blood pressure (a correlation between high blood pressure and an increased risk of diabetes), Type 2 diabetes with a higher risk of diabetes, stroke (African Americans are at 2.7% higher risk of a stroke), aging, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, education, income and other social determinants of health.
Has research identified another factor in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia risks: OUR RACE?
Research on Race and dementia indicates that African Americans have the highest risk of dementia, 2-3 times greater than whites.
African American Health Disparities
44% more likely
23% more likely
25% more likely to die from heart disease
72% more likely to be diabetic
Two times as likely to have Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. African Americans have a higher risk of dementia than any other U.S. ethnic group
Are less likely to be aware of community resources that are available to assist people with memory loss, and their care partners
African Americans who provide care to family members with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia experience greater hardship than white Americans. There is much more stress, lower levels of self-care, and poor health.
What can we do about this discrepancy?
Speak Up - Raise Awareness. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors. Tell your story. Demystify dementia. Dementia is not something that should be hidden or hushed.
Early Diagnosis. Early detection is very important. Seek regular screenings. Medicare covers – at no cost – including memory screening and testing during your annual wellness exam. Tell your health care provider if you are concerned about your memory or signs of cognitive dementia.
Volunteer for a Research Study. African Americans Fighting Alzheimer’s in Midlife (AA-FAiM) is a sub-study in partnership with Wisconsin Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center, Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP) looking to address modifiable risk factors for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Advocate for Culturally Competent Services and Support Systems. Seek support systems you trust to help ensure that these support systems are delivered in a way that honors and encourages minority leadership and engagement.
Closing Quote: “We’ve got a lot of work to do in the community. We’ve got to find a way to integrate the laboratory approach with research in the community to find what works best”….Dr. David Satcher, Former US Surgeon General