Dr. Andrea Ault-Brutus has more than 20 years of experience in health policy, which she is using to help improve access to care. “My work focuses on the quality of care that is delivered to communities of color and particularly to vulnerable populations in our community,” she explains. “I teach a class on the healthcare system. There needs to be more education about the types of dementia and being aware of the different resources that are available.”
Dr. Ault-Brutus, who serves on the Board of the Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is a special assistant professor of community health at Hofstra University and was previously the director of health equity at the Nassau County Department of Health.
She has also been personally affected by dementia. Dr. Ault-Brutus shares, “In February 2013, my father had a stroke and he went in for a CAT scan. He had suffered mini strokes prior to having the largest stroke. My husband is a physician and informed me that my father will most likely develop dementia because of the type of mini strokes that he had. It would turn out to be true.”
Dr. Ault-Brutus’ father developed vascular dementia, a decline in thinking skills caused by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to regions of the brain. “It was really depressing to say the least,” she explains. “My father transitioned into a person that could no longer do anything for himself and it impacted my family. My mother was in a bit of denial about what was happening to him and it took her a long time to accept.”
“My father was never formally diagnosed,” says Dr. Ault-Brutus. “When my father had brain damage, my mother realized there was something happening. However, he never got the services day in and out that he should have received. By the time my father passed away, he had full-blown dementia.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
report, older Black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately more likely than their white counterparts to have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
Dr. Ault-Brutus says, “In the Black community, I do not think Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are discussed enough. There is a stigma to the disease. But I am hearing more discussions with people that want to understand the disease and what services are available for their loved ones.”
Dr. Ault-Brutus is working to drive more conversations and help people access dementia resources through her work and in her role as a Board member with the Alzheimer’s Association. “With the Long Island Chapter, I educate the community about various health conditions and set up workshops. In 2023, we had an event called ‘Dementia in the Black Community.’ We need more events like this to reach the Black community in a profound way.”
Andrea has a message for family members whose loved ones are living with Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia. “There is hope. Keep up the good fight and continue to be there for one another. It is important to educate our local community with helpful resources because nobody is alone.”
The Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association provides support, education, training, and other resources across Nassau and Suffolk counties to increase knowledge and support. If you or your family are affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association, Long Island Chapter is available with free services and support. Call 800.272.3900 or visit alz.org/longisland.
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The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.