FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 28, 2010
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Produces ‘African-Americans & Alzheimer’s Disease’ Brochure as Part of Educational Outreach
NEW YORK, NY — In response to the increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease among African-Americans, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has produced a new brochure aimed at clearing up common misperceptions about the brain disorder and encouraging individuals to be pro-active if they notice symptoms of the disease in themselves or their family members.
The brochure, entitled “African-Americans & Alzheimer’s Disease,” is part of AFA’s larger outreach effort to educate this ethnic population, which faces a higher risk of the disease.
It grew out of a pilot project in Milwaukee that began last year to better inform African-Americans about the disease and provide free, confidential memory screenings during AFA’s National Memory Screening Day in November.
The project, including the brochure, was funded in part by the Extendicare Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Milwaukee that is supported solely by the employees of Extendicare Health Services, Inc., a national nursing home corporation.
The African-American brochure is the latest in AFA’s line of educational brochures. Individual brochures are free to interested consumers and professionals, and bulk copies can be purchased on AFA’s e-Store at www.alzfdn.org . For more information, contact AFA at 866-232-8484.
As noted in the brochure, advanced age is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and the number of persons aged 65 or older has been steadily increasing in the United States. The older African-American population is projected to triple to more than 9.9 million by 2050.
In addition, African-Americans have a high incidence of hypertension, diabetes and obesity—all known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, another form of dementia that is caused by stroke or blocked blood supply.
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects as many as 5.1 million Americans and is characterized by loss of memory and other intellectual functions. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
“The absence of early detection and the failure to diagnose are two of the greatest barriers to improving the lives of African-Americans affected by dementia,” said Gina Green-Harris, outreach program manager at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Milwaukee, who serves as a consultant on AFA’s outreach project in the Milwaukee area.
Studies show that for ethnic minorities, such as African-Americans and Hispanics, the misperception that Alzheimer’s disease is a normal part of aging and subsequent dismissal of symptoms can significantly delay diagnosis. Other barriers include concern about stigma, lack of knowledge about advances in treatment, and ineffective communication between individuals and healthcare professionals.
This year, AFA is further bolstering its outreach in Wisconsin—a state that has been experiencing gains in the number of both elderly and African-Americans. Efforts include working with a core group of African American community leaders to encourage additional houses of worship and other community venues to sign up as screening sites for National Memory Screening Day on November 16.
“Our message for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, is that knowledge is empowerment,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and CEO. “We want to raise awareness of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, introduce the concept of a memory screening as an effective first step toward detecting memory problems, similar to the use of a mammography for breast cancer or blood pressure screening for heart disease, and encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.”
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of 1,400 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional and practical needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free helpline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org .
Contact: Carol Steinberg