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Why Alzheimer's has been hitting minority communities hard

Posted at 9:34 AM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 20:12:13-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Alzheimer's is a disease that can touch anyone, but new data shows that race could be a key factor.

Breaking down the brain's ability to function, Alzheimer's causes confusion and memory loss, and it is believed that race is a factor, however, researchers can’t confirm.

“We recognize that we are one human family but there is distinct uniqueness of different racial groups,” says Dr. Fabu Phillis Carter of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Research Center. “If there isn't a good representation of all Americans, then those interventions and medicines will not benefit everyone to the same extent.”

Racial and cultural differences are affecting diagnosis and medical treatment.

“There are higher base rates for Alzheimer's disease in minority populations,” says Dr. John Lace a neuropsychologist at Prevea Health. “But there are a million different types of cultural reasons for this as well, how accessible it is to find healthcare is a large factor.”

Carrie Esselman of Fox Valley Memory Project has been working alongside families whose loved ones have been diagnosed and has seen what this does to a family.

“This is a disease that has no cure, we can only try to slow it down but it is so unpredictable,” says Esselman. “And to find a cure means to improve the quality of life, for everyone.”

Wisconsin has resources like the Fox Valley Memory Project that can help those whose loved ones have been diagnosed.