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African-Americans and Alzheimer's Disease

African Americans and Alzheimer's disease

Purple Power Champions Initiative

The Colorado Chapter recently received a grant to fund the Purple Power Champions initiative. This project is designed to build upon existing community partnerships to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease within the Denver Metro African American community. Currently, the chapter hosts an all-volunteer African American Advisory Committee, comprised of 39 members representing a broad range of African American professionals, educators, and concerned caregivers from the Denver Metro Area. The vision of the AAAC is to act as an active advisory committee whose work results in increased awareness and education about Alzheimer’s disease within the African American community. Purple Power Champions will launch an education campaign targeted toward African Americans in Denver, most specifically within their faith communities. They will provide Alzheimer’s disease education, and offer information and referral to Chapter services at each of their training opportunities.

For information about serving as a Purple Power Champion, hosting a presentation at your place of worship or joining the African American Advisory Committee, please contact Rosalyn Reese at 303-813-1669 x209 or email

Brain health, heart health and African Americans

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report, older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older whites, and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older whites. 

Every heartbeat pumps about one-fifth of blood to the brain. Brain cells need the oxygen and nutrients carried by blood in order to think clearly, speak and remember.
Conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, can also interfere with the brain’s vital supply lines. Studies show that African-Americans have a higher risk for these conditions, which may increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
African-Americans may have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke because of factors that can’t be controlled, such as age and family history. However, there are risk factors that can be controlled if steps are taken to keep brains healthier as people age.

Watch numbers
• Blood pressure – desirable blood pressure is less than 120/80
• Blood sugar – desirable fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL
• Body weight – keep body weight in the recommended range
• Cholesterol – desirable cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL

Make healthy lifestyle choices
• Stay mentally active
• Remain socially involved
• Stay physically active
• Reduce intake of fat and cholesterol
• Don’t smoke

We know that African-Americans have a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors. Partner with your doctor to watch for early warning signs of these conditions so you can get them under control.

More about brain health

African American risk factors for dementia


Educational programs about Alzheimer's disease

Understanding Memory Loss and Dementia
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Learn the differences between Alzheimer's, other dementias and normal memory loss.  You will learn about the Alzheimer's disease process, the programs offered by the Alzheimer’s Association and the community resources available.

Alzheimer’s Basics
What are the differences between Alzheimer’s, other dementias and normal memory loss due to aging?  Learn about the Alzheimer’s disease process, the programs offered by the Colorado Chapter and the community resources available.

Memory Loss, Diabetes & Heart Disease: Is there a link?
Latinos and African Americans have the highest incidences of diabetes and heart disease. If you have Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are at risk of developing any of these or of stroke, this session is for you. Learn about the importance of good brain health in an effort to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Know the 10 Signs
This program offers information about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s. Learn what to look, and how to distinguish what is typical from what is not.

Caregiving Tips: Successful Communication
The ability to communicate effectively with your loved one can make your job as a caregiver easier and increase the quality of life and safety for the person with dementia. This class covers successful communication skills for interacting with people with dementia.

African American Caregiver Support Groups
For African-American caregivers, family or friends who deal with the daily challenges of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementias we provide support and encouragement in a confidential setting and at no cost.  Meet other African-American caregivers and learn more about the disease, caregiving issues, and suggestions on how to take care of yourself. 

2nd Wednesday of every month, 6:00 p.m.
Black American West Museum
3091 California Street
1-800-272-3900 for more information


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Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.