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Headlines in this issue:
New Issues Brief Identifies Barriers for LGBT Older Adults Living with Alzheimer's and Other Dementias; Offers Recommendations to Bridge Gaps
LGBT and Dementia — a new issues brief developed by the Alzheimer's Association and SAGE outlines the unique challenges facing LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer's and other dementias and their caregivers. The brief is aimed at increasing awareness around key intersections of Alzheimer's disease, sexual orientation, and gender identification and expression so advocates and care providers can better meet the needs of LGBT elders and their caregivers facing dementia.
"Living with Alzheimer's or another dementia is not easy for anyone," said Sam Fazio, Ph.D., director of quality care and psychosocial research, Alzheimer's Association. "But LGBT individuals can often face additional challenges that need to be considered and addressed to ensure this population gets respectful and competent care."
It is estimated that there are 2.7 million LGBT people over age 50 living in the United States, and that number is increasing rapidly as baby boomers age and more people self-identify as LGBT. New research presented at the 2018 Alzheimer's Association International Conference found that about one in 13 lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) seniors in the United States are living with dementia. Dementia rates for the LGB population are 7.4 percent, compared to about 10 percent for the general population.
Despite recent advances in LGBT rights, LGBT older adults are often marginalized and face discrimination. They are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children — greatly limiting their opportunities for support. There's also a lack of transparency as 40 percent of LGBT older people in their 60s and 70s say their healthcare providers don't know their sexual orientation.
The brief identifies seven areas which can create unique or additional challenges for LGBT individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. They include:
- Social isolation
- Health disparities
- Sexuality and sexual expression
- Barriers to utilizing existing services
- Living with HIV/AIDS
To learn more about how these barriers are affecting care for LGBT individuals and their caregivers as well as recommendations for bridging these gaps, go to: LGBT and Dementia.
- Expert Interview: Sam Fazio, Ph.D., Director of Quality Care and Psychosocial Research, Alzheimer’s Association.
People Living with Early-stage Alzheimer's and Other Dementias Seek to Share Their Insights with Media
What does a former state prosecutor, a pastor and a human resources executive have in common?
All three individuals — Dale Rivard, Renee Perkins and Rod Blough — are living with early-stage Alzheimer's or another dementia and are new members of the 2018-2019 Alzheimer's Association Early-Stage Advisory Group (ESAG).
The Alzheimer's Association welcomes nine new advisors who were selected from more than 50 candidates across the country. ESAG members help raise awareness of Alzheimer's and other dementias, and reduce stigma associated with the disease by sharing their personal stories and experience living with dementia.
Rivard, a former North Dakota state prosecutor, who was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment last year at age 59, wants to use the next year to reduce the stigma that often accompanies a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia.
"A dementia diagnosis shouldn't define you," Rivard said. "People living with this disease still have a lot to offer and we want to make valuable contributions to society for as long as we can. I intend to use my voice during the next year to encourage others who are concerned about their memory to get a diagnosis."
For reporters and media outlets, these individuals can be an invaluable resource, providing personal insights and perspectives on what it's like to live with Alzheimer's and other dementias — not only the various challenges, but also the steps they are taking to live their best lives following diagnosis. Their personal insights can inform news articles and offer guidance to more than 5 million Americans living with the disease and their caregivers.
- Expert Interview: To speak with Rivard or another member of the Early-Stage Advisory Group, please contact Mike Lynch at the Alzheimer's Association.
BOLD Act to Create Public Health Infrastructure to Combat Alzheimer's Crisis
With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's — a number expected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050 unless advances are made — lawmakers are exploring various avenues to address this growing public health crisis.
An important piece of legislation gaining bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association is the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act (S. 2076/H.R. 4256).
The bill, which has 47 Senate cosponsors and 165 House cosponsors, would create an Alzheimer's public health infrastructure across the country to implement effective Alzheimer's interventions focused on public health issues such as increasing early detection and diagnosis, reducing risk and preventing avoidable hospitalizations. These important priorities track with the most recent research advances as well. Just a few weeks ago at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, new research was presented finding that intensive blood pressure control reduces risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and the combined risk of MCI and dementia.
The BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act would also increase implementation of the Healthy Brain Initiative's Public Health Road Map nationwide by establishing Alzheimer's centers of excellence, providing cooperative agreements to public health departments, and increasing data collection, analysis and timely reporting.
- Expert Interview: Robert Egge, Chief Public Policy Officer, Alzheimer's Association. Contact Laura Cilmi to arrange an interview.
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