Dementia starts earlier than you think

If you are a person-of-color, specifically African American or Latino/Hispanics, you are considerably more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. A study completed by the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study group (the ADAMS group), released information about the prevalence of Alzheimer.  Their research indicates that in the United States, older African-Americans are probably about two times more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Older Hispanics are probably at least one and one-half times more likely than older whites to have these conditions are. 

 

 

And oh by-the-way, our risk starts early in the black, brown, and Native American communities.  The relationship of socioeconomic characteristic and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias has been studied, correlated, and cataloged.  I’m going to touch on two of the characterics: education & health.

 

Education

Having a low level of education, having low income and having lived in a rural area as a child are socioeconomic characteristics that have been found to be associated with greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Some studies indicate that it is not only low level of education but also poorer quality of education that is associated with greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias. One reason we advocate for and support groups like Great Books for Our Kids, Black Kids Read, and like organizations is that these groups focus on supplementing the educational systems. They serve as advocates and educators for speech, language and literacy development.

So, let me be very clear about this: one of the ways you increase your chances of developing dementia-related is through a lack of education. 

Health

High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. High blood pressure is more common in African-Americans overall and diabetes is more common in both African-Americans and Hispanics.

The data is telling us that African-American experience a high degree of Vascular Dementia, which is caused by mini strokes that can go undiagnosed for years. Vascular dementia is not a brain disease, it is a blood supply problem where parts of the brain are not getting oxygen and nourishment and it affects movement, speech and so on.

High blood pressure and diabetes are treatable conditions, and many researchers and clinicians have proposed that treatment of these diseases, especially if it were begun in people who have the conditions in midlife, could reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. So…

Your attention please!

(Switch to full screen to view these videos) 

Research has shown that black females are at increased risk of vascular dementia due to a higher incidence of obesity and hypertension.

 

The potential for black, brown, and Native American males to experience alcoholic dementia before age 40 is also increased due to early age onset of drinking and heavier patterns of consumption.

What’s the call to action?

Research reveals that lifestyle factors play a significant role in protecting your brain as you age. You can reduce your risk of dementia-related disease by eating right, exercising, staying mentally stimulated (challenged)  and keeping stress in check. Some of the pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management

You’ve heard this all before, it’s not new, and many of you reading this blog have been touched by dementia.  The more you strengthen each of these pillars in your daily life, the healthier your brain will work stronger…longer.

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