Among Black Americans ages 70 and older, 21.3% are living with Alzheimer's. Learn what the Alzheimer's Association is doing to address disparities and provide care and support for African Americans living with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
While older Black Americans are twice as likely as older Whites to have Alzheimer's or another dementia, research hasn't yet identified the cause. Higher rates of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) disease may play a role. Some studies indicate that after correcting for overall health and socioeconomic status, these differences disappear.
Only 20% of Black Americans say that they have no barriers to excellent health care and support for Alzheimer's or other dementias.
Half of African Americans say that they have experienced discrimination while seeking care for a person living with Alzheimer's.
Only 48% of Blacks report being confident they can access culturally competent care.
Only 53% of Blacks believe that a cure for Alzheimer's will be distributed fairly, without regard to race, color or ethnicity.
Only 35% of African Americans say that they are concerned about Alzheimer's or dementia.
65% of Black Americans say that they know somebody with Alzheimer's or dementia.
55% of Blacks think that significant loss of cognitive abilities or memory is a natural part of aging rather than a disease.
For more information, please see the Association's Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures special report on Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer's in America (PDF).
Perceptions of clinical trials
A history of exclusion from medical trials and a lasting history of discrimination from the medical establishment, including but not limited to the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study, contribute to high levels of mistrust of clinical trials
among Black Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Black Americans (62%) believe that medical research is biased
against people of color.
The most common reasons Black Americans do not want to participate in a clinical trial are:
- The fear of being a guinea pig, which 69% of African Americans name as a concern.
- Black Americans are also far more likely than other racial groups to be concerned about getting sick from treatment, with 45% describing this as a reason.
However, Black Americans are the least likely group to report cost as a concern, with only 24% saying cost and time are reasons not to participate.
Other studies identified reasons such as not expecting to benefit from participating in research and not being given enough information about research studies. Many of these findings persist across socioeconomic groups. In another study, Black Americans rated study risks, the requirement of a study partner, study procedures, the ratio of drug to placebo, and study location as important factors in the decision of whether to enroll.
In this webinar discussion, hosted by Beverly Berry from the Alzheimer's Association, three expert panelists discuss how to build trust and remove barriers to greater Black participation in research. It features the Rev. Dr. Ruben Warren, former director of the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care; the Rev Dr. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison, senior director of faith-based initiatives at NYC Health + Hospitals; and the Rev. Dr. Miriam J. Burnett, medical director for the International Health Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Serving the community
At the Alzheimer's Association, we believe that diverse perspectives are critical to achieving health equity — meaning that all communities have a fair and just opportunity for early diagnosis and access to risk reduction and quality care. The Association is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved communities and responding with resources and education to address the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Unforgettable: A play about the lived experience of Alzheimer's
"Unforgettable" shows how a Black American family comes together when the grandmother develops signs of dementia.
Learn About the Play
The Alzheimer's Association actively serves the African American community by providing culturally appropriate services and working to reduce health disparities. You can do something to help by becoming an Association volunteer
. Make a difference in your community by delivering support and education, raising funds, advocating for Alzheimer’s and more.
New IDEAS is a new clinical study from the Alzheimer's Association and the American College of Radiology on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. At least 4,000 of the planned 7,000 New IDEAS participants will be Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino. Historically, Black and Hispanic people haven't been represented fully in Alzheimer's and dementia clinical studies. This study seeks to ensure that the results apply to all racial and ethnic groups.
If you are unable to participate in New IDEAS, you can still help advance Alzheimer's research. Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch is a free and private tool that connects individuals living with Alzheimer's, caregivers and healthy volunteers to clinical trials. Search open studies or sign up to receive email alerts of new studies through TrialMatch.
The Association's Northern California and Northern Nevada chapters of the Alzheimer's Association created the videos Black Men and Dementia and Black Women and Dementia: Two Sides of the Story.
Dr. Robert W. Turner II is an author, researcher and former NFL player. He describes the impact of dementia on his family and on Black Americans, his work as lead researcher for the Brain Health & Aging Study and how the Alzheimer's Association's partnerships are helping to advance research.
The Alzheimer's Association actively partners to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in Alzheimer's prevention and treatment. Its partners dedicating to serving the Black community include:
Learn more about our partners and partnerships as part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Help is available
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer's Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease.