Although the rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in African-Americans is significantly higher than in whites, they are less likely than whites to have a diagnosis of the condition. Medicare data from 2013 show they were only 36 percent more likely to have a diagnosis. And, according to the 2006 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), African-Americans with cognitive impairment are less likely than whites to say that a doctor has told them they have a "memory-related disease."
"When they are diagnosed, African-Americans are typically in the later stages of the disease, when they are more cognitively and physically impaired and need more expensive hospital, physician, and home health care services," stated Dr. Anafidelia Tavares, Director of Programs for the Alzheimer's Association – NYC Chapter.
Early diagnosis is critically important, so all those affected by the disease–including family caregivers–have time to develop a care plan for the future and can take advantage of free care and support programs, clinical trials, and information about healthy aging.
While genetic factors do not appear to account for the greater prevalence of – or the greater risk for developing – Alzheimer's, high blood pressure and diabetes are suspected risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias among all population groups. High blood pressure and diabetes are more prevalent in the African- American community, making these conditions, among others, contributing factors to the greater prevalence of Alzheimer's and dementia in this population. Better management of these conditions – especially if treatment were begun in people who have these conditions in midlife – may help reduce Alzheimer's and dementia risk among African-Americans.
To meet the urgent need for Alzheimer's education and support programs in the communities of color in New York City, the Alzheimer's Association offers neighborhood programs throughout NYC, as well as online courses on the Training and Education Center at www.alz.org/nyc. These courses share information about healthy aging, how to "Know the 10 Signs® - Early Detection Matters", and opportunities to participate in clinical trials through a free program called TrialMatch®.
The Alzheimer's Association-NYC Chapter also offers free care consultations, both in person and confidentially online, with trained, bilingual social workers who can be reached 24/7 at the Helpline 800.272.3900.