MCC has begun hosting targeted conferences to African American and Hispanic communities near campus in response to recent studies proving they are disproportionately affected by dementia. Six free educational conferences will be available from February until April that detail healthcare information to anyone affected by dementia or a related illness.
Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal type of dementia which is characterized by loss of memory, motor skills and coordination.
“Memory loss and changes in cognition are not a normal part of aging. And so we really want people to know that if you’re sensing something in yourself, or if you’re seeing it in a loved one, to reach out and get some assistance,” Melissa Del-Colle of the Alzheimer Association said. “We have people who can do that.”
According to a study done by the Alzheimer Association in 2018, Hispanic and Latino Americans are 1 1/2 times more likely than white Americans to develop Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. African Americans are nearly twice as likely to develop the disease as white Americans.
“The reality is that Alzheimer’s disease impacts everybody at some point in their lifetimes. Either because it might happen to you, or someone that you love, or someone in your community that you care for,” Del Colle said.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can have lasting economic effects on not only the afflicted, but their caregivers. Providing care often extends beyond the individual and into the generations after. This economic pressure compounded with higher rates of poverty among African American and Hispanic communities has become a perfect storm of human suffering.
“Their children are becoming caregivers. Sometimes their grandchildren are becoming caregivers. So we often hear about ‘thankless generation caregivers’ where a parent might be, or a family might be taking care of a parent while still raising young children in the home,” Katie Skvarce, the Communications Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, said.
According to Skvarce, there are thousands of dementia and Alzheimer’s studies performed every year, yet the direct causes of the illness are still unknown. Research into biomarkers that could predict the disease are promising, but as of now the explanation as to why African American and Hispanic communities are adversely affected is still unknown.
What is known is the pressure individuals and communities face when someone they know is afflicted. MCC’s diverse population of students provides the perfect opportunity to educate and provide help to a broad section of the community dealing with dementia.
“The younger generation is who pays for that over time. So there’s an invested interest for everyone involved, everyone in the country, to come together in the world to really find a solution and be educated,” Skvarce said.
For further information regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in African American and Hispanic communities visit one of the five remaining conferences taking place on February 15, March 1, March 22, April 19 and April 26 in the MCC library.