COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Startling new evidence that people of color are far more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease than white people, enough to cause the Alzheimer’s Association to plan a national town hall with leading researchers looking at the reasons why.
Dr. Carl V. Hill, the director of Diversity and Inclusion for the National Alzheimer’s Association, said Hispanics are 1½ times more likely to get Alzheimer’s, but Black people are nearly 3 times as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“This is a critical situation in health disparities in an already, I think, priority public health condition with over 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or dementia right now,” Hill said.
Through multiple studies and data collection, researches know the color of you skin can be a predictor of your risk for Alzheimer’s, but there is not a nationally representative study that specifically recruited Blacks and Latinos.
“There is also the challenge of seeing the populations that are most affected, most at risk, that they are involved in the clinical trials, and the research that we see focused on treatments and interventions for Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” Hill said.
Hill said part of the problem might be lack of access to quality health care, education, and awareness. Researchers know that eating a healthy diet, physical activity, staying cognitively engaged are important tools in fighting the onset of Alzheimer’s, and they know people of color have other medical disparities.
“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain and many of the disparities we see in diabetes, hypertension, stroke, could play a role in risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life,” he said.
Families of any color sometimes struggle with admitting a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s.
“I think stigma is a big piece of diagnosis and both African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease,” Hill said.
Researchers in Alzheimer’s and health disparities will come together to look for new ways to collaborate and better ways to fight Alzheimer’s for everyone.
The Health Equity and Alzheimer’s Disease town hall is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3, from 5-6:30 p.m. For more information and to register, click here.