Higher Prevalence of Alzheimer’s for African Americans

In order to acknowledge Black History Month, here is some critical information to share for older African Americans and people who care for them.

Research shows that African-Americans are nearly two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. The reason for this difference seems to be tied to cardiovascular health.  Additionally, they are more likely to not only develop the disease more than white Americans, but use substantially more hospital, physician and home-health care while incurring significantly higher costs for those services.Despite this information, communities of color continue to be under-diagnosed and under-represented in health initiatives studying this disease.

Here are some alarming statistics. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, estimates are that 50% of the people who have Alzheimer’s disease are not diagnosed and that 50% of the people who have been diagnosed are not treated appropriately. These estimates may be higher in minority communities for a variety of reasons:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is more prevalent among African-Americans and Hispanics than among whites-with estimates ranging from 14% to almost 100% higher.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are often diagnosed at later stages of the disease, limiting the effectiveness of treatments that depend on early intervention.

What can be done? There are some excellent evidence based early intervention programs in place, but there needs to be awareness among health care professionals so these individuals can be identified.

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