African Americans and Alzheimer ’ s Disease : Role of Health Educators in Addressing this Silent Epidemic

  • Deborah A. Fortune
  • Published 2013

Abstract

Deborah A. Fortune, PhD, MCHES, North Carolina Central University, Department of Public Health Education, 1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27707 dfortune@nccu.edu, Rosalyn Lang, PhD, North Carolina A & T University, Greensboro, North Carolina, Sharon Cook, PhD, North Carolina A & T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, Goldie S. Byrd, PhD, North Carolina A & T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, Send correspondence to Deborah A. Fortune, North Carolina Central University, Department of Public Health Education, 1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27707 dfortune@nccu.edu According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2011), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most under recognized public health crisis of this century. The number of people with AD is growing drastically. This number is expected to more than double by 2025 (Herbert, Scherr, Bienias, Bennett, & Evans, 2003; Mount & Downton, 2006) and will increase to more than 16 million by 2050, as the nation’s baby boomers are living longer. The first wave of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) turned 65 in 2011, and in 2029 all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. This group of more than 70 million individuals will be one of the largest groups to have a significant impact on America’s health care system. There is widespread belief that even these numbers are underestimated due to underreporting of AD deaths on death certificates, both in the community and in nursing homes (Alzheimer’s Association [AA], 2011). Alzheimer’s disease most often occurs in individuals in their 50s and 60s. This is referred to as late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) and is most common. However AD may also occur in individuals who are in their late 30s and early 40s. This is referred to as early-onset AD. Most often, the disease is diagnosed with a thorough medical history, testing for a person’s mental status, a physical and neurological examination, and a series of blood tests and image analyses to rule out other causes of dementialike symptoms. In addition, new diagnostic criteria include the identification of three stages of AD and the incorporation of biomarker analyses, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA, 2013a). Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death for Americans and the 5th leading cause of death in persons 65 and older (AA, 2012a). Deaths from AD increased 66 percent between 2000 and 2008. Whereas deaths from AD are increasing, the death rate for heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States, has been decreasing over the past few years. In addition to health-related problems, Alzheimer’s disease has a tremendous financial impact on American society. For example, the estimated cost associated with AD for 2012 will be $200 billion, with $140 billion costs to Medicare and Medicaid. During the 40-year period between 2010 and 2050, the total cost of care for Americans age 65 and older with AD is expected to increase from $172 billion to $1.08 trillion per year (AA, 2012a; Gurland et al., 1999; Hendrie et al., 2006; & Tang et al., 2001). In racial minority communities, the prevalence of AD among individuals aged 65 years and older is estimated to be higher than in the non-HispanAfrican Americans and Alzheimer’s Disease: Role of Health

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Fortune2013AfricanAA, title={African Americans and Alzheimer ’ s Disease : Role of Health Educators in Addressing this Silent Epidemic}, author={Deborah A. Fortune}, year={2013} }