Healthcare equity and Alzheimers is the focus of March 3 virtual town hall – cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Alzheimers Association will host a virtual town hall examining the relationship between access to health care and the deadly disease from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 3.

Those interested in the free event should register online here.

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to expose disparities in healthcare access that overwhelmingly affect communities of color. And underserved populations contend with elevated rates of Alzheimers and other dementias as well as COVID-19.

According to the Alzheimers Association, Black populations are twice as likely as whites to develop Alzheimers or another dementia. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely.

Complicating the picture, particularly for caregivers, CDC data confirms that minorities are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Case Western Reserve University researchers recently released a study indicating that Black Americans with dementia are nearly three times as likely to become infected with COVID-19 as their white counterparts.

In general, Black Americans are also more prone to factors associated with vascular disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that may put them at risk for Alzheimers and stroke-related dementia.

The town hall -- named for distinguished University of Michigan social psychologist James S. Jackson, who explored links between racial disparities and minority health -- will be hosted by Carl V. Hill, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the Alzheimers Association, and Peter Lichtenberg, president of the Gerontological Society of America.

Speakers from The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, West Virginia University, the Michigan Alzheimers Disease Research Center and the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute will provide valuable insights.

According to Hill, it is important to examine disparities in health care because the research highlights contextual factors for Alzheimers and other dementia risk.

For example, he explained, cardiovascular health and stress may be part of the pathways to Alzheimers and other dementia for disproportionately affected communities.

Eric VanVlymen, Ohio regional leader of the Alzheimers Association, said the organization remains committed to funding national research initiatives that target minorities.

Such initiatives include the new IDEAS study, which aims to enroll 4,000 African-American and Latino participants to determine whether amyloid PET scans improve diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimers.

The association also continues to work with partners in Ohio and nationwide to improve outreach and ensure that all communities have equal access to opportunities for early detection and diagnosis of the fatal illness.

Being there in the community and working within the community is so critically important, said Hill. Its an unparalleled opportunity to translate research findings and engage all communities using community-based participatory strategies.

Hill hopes that all who attend the town hall will walk away with a stronger commitment to health equity and inclusion as part of the overall effort to defeat Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

The Alzheimers Association is the leading voluntary health organization involved with Alzheimers care, support and research. The associations 24/7 help line can be reached at 800-272-3900.

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Healthcare equity and Alzheimers is the focus of March 3 virtual town hall - cleveland.com

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