The Silent Epidemic “Facing Dementia in the Black Community” is Topic of Important 5-Part Series

Pictured from left: Pastor George Nicholas, Carl V. Hill, Ph.D, Karl Shallowhorn. Above from left, Pastor Angela Stewart, Pastor Betty Williams, Ms. Brenda Favor.

They call it the silent  epidemic. 

Researchers have found that African Americans have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and in fact, are twice as likely as White Americans to be so impacted.  It is the 4th leading cause of death among older African Americans.

That is why the Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter’s special five-part webinar series, “Facing Dementia in the Black/African American Community”  is so important. It will not only address these disparities, but offer experts from the national Alzheimer’s Association and the Buffalo area who will speak about the issue, local resources and how to get involved in finding solutions. 

Among the speakers will be Dr. Carl Hill, the Vice President of Scientific Engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association.  

“We know that African Americans are disproportionately affected and are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other dementia than White Americans…so it’s crucial that we understand the many factors that might be involved,“ said Dr. Hill in a recent interview. His presentation will focus on how to overcome health disparities with participation in critical research trials. 

 The free series/conference  will be offered live via the Zoom application every Thursday evening at  6:00 p.m. from September 3 through October 1. Registration is required to access the Zoom link. To register for all sessions or individual classes, visit Webinar, or call the Association’s toll-free 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

The  pesenters will include:

• Sept. 3: Arthena Caston was diagnosed with a younger-onset dementia at age 51. Arthena will discuss breaking the stigma of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the African American community.

• Sept. 10: Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., M.P.H, Alzheimer’s Association, Vice President of Scientific Engagement and Rev. George F. Nicholas, of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church in Buffalo chairs the Buffalo Center for Health Equity and is the Convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force.(See Pastor Nicholas’  Commentary Page  13.) Both gentlemen will cover the need for diversity in research and what steps individuals can take to overcome health disparities.

• Sept. 17: Karl Shallowhorn, M.S., CASAC, is the founder and President at Shallowhorn Consulting in Buffalo. He will discuss caregiver stress and how to overcome it, as well as potential warning signs of mental health difficulties for dementia caregivers.

• Sept. 24: Three Buffalo-area religious leaders, who also have personal experience with dementia caregiving, will take part in a panel discussion: The ole of Faith in Dementia Caregiving. Pastor Angela Stewart leads Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Ms. Brenda Favor is from Friendship Baptist Church and Pastor Betty Williams of Elim Christian Fellowship.

• Oct. 1: Dementia care consultants and volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association WNY Chapter will discuss tips for healthy living and aging as well as local resources.

Mrs. Favor, who is her husband’s primary caregiver, sees the webinar as being of the upmost importance to the Black community. “We have the highest risk and are often the last ones to get diagnosed and treated,” she stated adding that it’s also very important to be  “observant and knowledgeable of early signs and symptoms.” 

 Pastor Angela Stewart agrees that the urgency of the conference can’t be stressed enough. 

 “My primary message to the community is that knowledge of the disease is very important.”  She also stressed caregiver support. Every second Friday of the month her church offers  a Respites service, from 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m.  for their loved ones.  “We have trained staff to assist then for the 4 hours.  For more information they can call the church at (716) 891-5652.”

“The issues of dementia and mental illness each carry stigma in their own right,” noted Mr. Shalllowhorn,”This is especially true among African Americans and by presenting this webinar these issues will be addressed honestly and openly.” Additionally he said there will be information shared on related topics.