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African-American and Hispanic caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease are more likely than caregivers of other races to dismiss the symptoms of Alzheimer's as an inevitable part of getting older, according to a survey by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. This lack of understanding leads to a delay in getting help.
“Not enough education is being provided to these communities,” says Eric J. Hall, chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Foundation. “We need to take a hard look at that.”
“Alzheimer's disease is a devastating illness that is by no means a normal part of aging,” explains Warachal E. Faison, M.D. assistant director of the Institute for Research Minority Training on Mental Health and Aging and clinical director of the Alzheimer's research and clinical programs at the Medical University of North Carolina. “It's crucial for caregivers to be able to identify symptoms early and bring their loved one to a doctor without delay for proper diagnosis and treatment.”
Among surveyed caregivers who reported not knowing enough about the disease to recognize symptoms, roughly 7 in 10 attributed a delay in diagnosis to either fear that something could be wrong, fear of the responsibility of caring for someone with Alzheimer's, having never been offered a memory screening, or having little access to a health care professional.
As part of their effort to educate people of color about Alzheimer's, the Foundation will offer free memory screenings all over the country—including in many houses of worship—on November 13, 2007. “Many African American and Hispanic caregivers look to religious leaders for this kind of information and support,” Hall says.
For more information about National Memory Screening Day or Alzheimer's disease, go to alzfdn.org or call toll-free 866-232-8484.
NEUROBICS Can you figure out the common expression represented by each picture?