Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Memory Sunday aims to lift silence around Alzheimer's disease in the black community: VIDEO
Mary Mitchell of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church is helping to recruit churches for Memory Sunday, an Alzheimer's awareness day on June 11.
(Photo: Darla Carter/The Courier-Journal)
The way Pernessa Seele sees it, some African Americans aren’t taking Alzheimer’s disease seriously enough.
“We still think it’s mama just getting old, or mama's a little senile,” said Seele, the founder of The Balm In Gilead, an organization that works to improve African-American health.
But a new campaign by the group and the University of Kentucky hopes to change that with the help of African-American churches in Louisville, Lexington and across the country.
The Memory Sunday campaign — which incorporates material created at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging — encourages African-American congregations to make Alzheimer’s disease their focus on June 11, whether if it’s by incorporating the topic into the sermon, giving a separate presentation or just handing out materials they've downloaded for free from the Internet.
“This year is kind of our first widespread national rollout of integrating the idea of Alzheimer’s education into churches,” said Allison Caban-Holt, an assistant professor with Sanders-Brown. “Anybody can participate, anywhere in the nation.”
The goal is to “get African-American churches talking about and educating our community about Alzheimer’s,” Seele said. “We still have a culture of silence" that keeps people from seeking treatment or even seeking a diagnosis "until it’s too late.”
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More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a degenerative brain disease that is the most common cause of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Although there are more non-Hispanic whites living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, older African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely, on a per-capita basis, than older whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias,” according to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.
Also, “a review of many studies by an expert panel concluded that older African Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites, and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites,” the report notes.
The Balm In Gilead, which is based in Virginia and has a brain health center, has been working with African-American congregations to address health disparities for 28 years, focusing first on HIV/AIDS, then branching out to other illnesses, such as cervical cancer and diabetes.
The church is a good way to reach African Americans because it's "still our gathering place," Seele said. “For the African-American community, the church is still the distribution center for information.”
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by COURIER-JOURNAL
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