Studies show that every 69 seconds, another American develops Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the No. 6 killer in this country and the only one without a way to prevent, treat or cure the disease. African Americans, particularly the elderly, are twice as likely to develop the disease than any other demographic-but we don’t know why. In addition, many members of the African-American community are often misdiagnosed and still others go untreated.
“It is critical for the well-being of the African-American community that we know more about Alzheimer’s disease, and how it affects all populations, including people of color,” said Dr. Karen Bell, clinical professor of neurology at Columbia University and former director of minority recruitment efforts for the National Institute on Aging (NIA)-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study. “We must think about our children and grandchildren, and learn enough now about Alzheimer’s to develop treatments or a cure that can make their future brighter than our own.”
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) has been helping to identify the earliest signs of AD, when brain damage begins and when treatments offer the greatest promise for slowing down the progression of the disease. ADNI is not testing experimental drugs but rather using scans like MRIs to follow normal individuals, people with mild cognitive impairment and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to monitor changes in their brains that can lead to clues about how Alzheimer’s works. Perhaps no other study has contributed as much to the field of Alzheimer’s research as ADNI but more African Americans need to be represented in this study to reflect the real burden of the disease.
Chances are that you or someone you know is affected by AD. Perhaps you are one of the 14.9 million caregivers who provide unpaid care to a patient or maybe you have watched a friend trying to juggle her job, her kids and taking care of her mom who is getting ever more forgetful.
“If we all work together, we can find the answers we need to eradicate this disease,” said Dr. Bell. “I believe it is possible to stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks, but it will take our community coming together, and our nation coming together, to succeed.”
ADNI is currently seeking volunteers to participate in its groundbreaking AD research studies. Anyone between the ages of 55 Ð90 who is healthy, diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or has Alzheimer’s disease is encouraged to apply.
To volunteer or to learn more about the study, contact the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at (800) 438-4380 or visit www.adni-info.org.