The Alzheimer’s Association recognizes that systemic racial and social injustice permeate all aspects of society and are intertwined with the causes of health disparities, including the disproportionate prevalence of Alzheimer’s among Black, Hispanic and other diverse communities. In FY20, the Association deepened its commitment to addressing these inequities in the fight against Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.
Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health care disparities experienced by members of diverse and underserved communities also facing dementia, the Association submitted a statement to the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health. The statement for the hearing on “Health Care Inequality: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 and the Health Care System” advocated for the advancement of policies that would help address longstanding issues that have been compounded by the pandemic. The Association has also expressed support for two related bills introduced in 2020: the Reducing COVID-19 Disparities by Investing in Public Health Act and the Health Enterprise Zones Act.
Throughout FY20, the Association worked with key partners to further its outreach efforts. In October 2019, the Association and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church announced a three-year partnership aimed at educating and engaging the church’s more than 2 million U.S.-based members in the fight against Alzheimer’s. To provide critical support during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Association and AME Church offered free online education programs to all those facing the disease. The interactive series covered topics such as the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, healthy lifestyle habits, and COVID-19 and caregiving.
In an ongoing effort to provide resources to underserved communities, the Association continued its work on special projects such as the Healthy Brain Initiative, a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map for Indian Country. Read more about these initiatives in the Advancing Public Policy section.
To help raise awareness of the impact of dementia on Hispanic communities and celebrate the extraordinary individuals and families who champion the cause, the Association participated in online and media outreach activities across the country during National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
The Association also participated in a number of online informational events targeting a Hispanic audience. In May 2020, the Association continued its national partnership with the National Hispanic Council on Aging by collaborating on the “Caregiving in Times of COVID-19” webinar. Beth Kallmyer, Association vice president of Care and Support, presented on the topic of COVID-19 and caregiving for individuals living with dementia. In June, the Association collaborated with the University of California San Francisco, Global Brain Health Institute and Well Connected Español to present a Spanish-language international Alzheimer’s symposium, Simposio Internacional de Alzheimer, via Zoom and Facebook Live. The virtual event featured dementia care specialists discussing research, clinical studies and caring for caregivers.
To help educate community professionals about the impact of Alzheimer’s on diverse and underserved populations, the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline provided a free, three-part webinar series in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, the National Associations of Area Agencies on Aging, Eldercare Locator, Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders (SAGE), the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) and AARP. The webinars explored the unique issues facing individuals and families within these communities and offered recommendations to connect to resources and support.