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Alzheimer's and the African American Community

Meghana Giridhar - February 23, 2016 12:44 PM

African-Americans are more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to the 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report released by the Alzheimer’s Association. Based on data for Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older, Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia had been diagnosed in 8 percent of white older adults, 11 percent of African-Americans and 12 percent of Hispanics.

A typical African American caregiver is a 44.2 female, currently caring for one adult, a 66.3-year-old female relative who needs care because of a long-term physical condition. On average, Hispanic and African-American caregivers spend more time caregiving (approximately 30 hours per week) than non-Hispanic white caregivers (20 hours per week) and Asian-American caregivers (16 hours per week).

All the data makes it clear that it is imperative for African American caregivers to educate themselves about warning signs of the disease.

Here is a list of common signs:

•    Memory loss that includes forgetting important events or names or repeatedly asking for the same information
•    Difficulty in planning or concentrating on simple tasks
•    Getting confused about the current time or place where the person is
•    Vison problems or difficulty in making sense of colors and contrasts
•    Struggling with common words or losing track of a conversation
•    Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps
•    Poor judgement
•    Isolating oneself from social events    
•    Experiencing moodiness, anxiety, depression   

A few changes in lifestyle as those listed below can go a long way in reducing risk factors. This includes:

•    Adopting a physically active lifestyle
•    Watching cholesterol intake with diets rich in fiber and low in saturated fats
•    Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent diabetes

Caregivers need to focus on themselves too to ensure their own well-being. Some common signs of caregiver stress include:

•    Denial
•    Anger
•    Insomnia
•    Depression
•    Social withdrawal
•    Exhaustion

To that regard, it is important to ask for help and not try to do everything. The Alzheimer’s Association provides more information about care services.

Keeping communication lines open with family and friends can help overcome loneliness often experienced during the journey. Working as a team is the best way to take on the challenge of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Manager and is part of eCareDiary's founding team. In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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