Health experts raising awareness about impacts of Alzheimer’s on African Americans

A central Kentucky organization is working to raise awareness for a problem impacting people of...
A central Kentucky organization is working to raise awareness for a problem impacting people of color, and the message comes just in time as June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.(CBS)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 3:24 PM CDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A central Kentucky organization is working to raise awareness for a problem impacting people of color, and the message comes just in time as June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

“Over 75,000 people in Kentucky have Alzheimer’s and there’s over 149,000 caregivers in Kentucky,” said Erin Gillespie, the director of programs with the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Kentucky, Southern Indiana.

This past year was one of the worst Gillespie says the Alzheimer’s Association has seen.

“We’ve seen more deaths in 2020 due to COVID. Over 900 more deaths than the prior year because of COVID. There’s a lot going on in nursing homes, more isolations and then caregivers,” Gillespie said.

Not only are they handling the 24/7 care for their loved ones, but caregivers no longer have the support from others who aren’t allowed in the home anymore. That’s the reason Gillespie says they have online support groups and free services. But there’s also another issue the Alzheimer’s Association is working to bring to light.

“For African Americans, it’s two times that of what it is in white communities. You know, a lot of that has to do with health disparities,” Gillespie said.

According to the association, 66% of Black Americans believe it’s harder for them to get excellent care. 62% believe that medical research is biased against people of color, and fewer than 48% feel confident they have access to medical providers who understand ethnic or racial backgrounds and experiences.

The Alzheimer’s Association does have a free 24/7 hotline (1-800-272-3900) for families and caregivers.

They’re also hosting a free online information session on June 24 from 1-2:00 p.m.

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