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Alzheimer's disease among African-Americans

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 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

More about African-Americans and Alzheimer's

Educational Programs

Know the 10 Signs: Early Detection Matters
If you or someone you know is experiencing memory loss or behavioral changes, it’s time to learn the facts. Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease gives you a chance to begin drug therapy, enroll in clinical studies and plan for the future. This interactive workshop features video clips of people with Alzheimer’s disease as a way to highlight the challenges they face every day.

The Basics: Memory Loss, Alzheimer's & Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. If you or someone you know is affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it’s time to learn the facts. This program provides information on detection, possible causes and risk factors, stages of the disease, treatment, and much more.

Effective Communication Strategies
Teaches caregivers to decode verbal and behavioral communication by someone with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  Participants leave with strategies for meaningful connection with people in early, middle and late stage dementia.

Healthy Habits for a Healthier You
For centuries, we’ve known that the health of the brain and the body are connected. But now, science is able to provide insights into how to optimize our physical and cognitive health as we age. Join us to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement, and use hands-on tools to help you incorporate these recommendations into a plan for healthy aging.  This class is intended for those without memory loss. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please contact the Alzheimer's Association.

African American Caregiver Support Group
2nd Wednesday of every month, 6:00 p.m.
Black American West Museum Office
3055 California Street (house next to Museum)
Denver,CO 80205
1-800-272-3900 for more information


Alzheimer's Association

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