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Gaining insight into Alzheimer’s and the African American population

Alzheimer’s Spotlight Moment

Gaining insight into Alzheimer’s and the African American population

There are startling statistics that grow more troubling by the minute. Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.

The Alzheimer’s Association has now identified that African Americans develop Alzheimer’s at a higher rate than any other group of Americans. They are about twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to develop the disease or other forms of dementia, according to the association, a group that focuses on research, care and education.

In a study by The Alzheimer’s Association entitled, “The Silent Epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease,” findings presented from research give an accumulating body of evidence about the scope and nature of Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans. Here are some facts: Alzheimer’s disease is more prevalent among African Americans than among whites, with estimates ranging from 14 percent to almost 100 percent higher. There is a greater familial risk of Alzheimer’s in African Americans, and genetic factors may work differently to cause Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans.

While there remains no cure for the disease, for those affected there is help. The Alzheimer’s Association, Southeast Florida Chapter, is a local organization committed to helping families in seven counties: Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Our professionally staffed 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) offers information and advice to more than 300,000 callers each year and provides translation services in more than 200 languages. There are also many face-to-face support groups and educational sessions throughout South Florida.

 Jahna’s Story In Her Words

By Yuleika De Castro

      Jahna Jones, a 28 year-old Alzheimer’s caregiver and advocate, shares her story.

I have had 10 confirmed and 1 unconfirmed members of my family who lived with Alzheimer’s-only four of which are still alive.

This disease has impacted my life in almost every way possible.  I’ve been a caregiver and watched what this disease does.  Alzheimer’s leaves those left behind powerless and helpless.  I volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association so one day no one else will feel that. I know what it feels like when you look into someone’s eyes and know you’ve started to lose them.  It is a devastating thing that no one should have to go through.  I wish I wasn’t familiar with it.  It is hard to mourn the loss of someone who is still living.  You are literally losing someone, they are changing and there is nothing you can do about it.

This disease doesn’t tell you in advance who is going to have it.  You don’t know if it’ll be you, your father, your brother, your uncle. It’s the fear that my dad tries to hide because so many family members have already been impacted.  I fight so that one day, no one is impacted.

I fight to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice anymore. I fight for all of the memories we cannot share, all of the Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays and anniversaries. Those memories are important.  I fight so it’s something that we can prevent and cure and we can save all the memories and all the lives.  I advocate because this is the only way I know how to fight and use what little voice I do have, to support the cause. Working with the Alzheimer’s Association, I realize that together we can make a major difference.

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