[Psychiatric News]

Alzheimer’s disease is sixth leading cause of death among Americans, but the fourth leading cause of death for older African Americans.

While African Americans make up approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than 20 percent of the diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. Though discussion of the issues involved in dealing with these illnesses is often avoided among black Americans, the African American Network Against Alzheimer’s (AANAA)—an affiliate of the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Network—is urging this high-risk population to “stand up” and “speak out” against AD.

Around the time of its national launch as an advocacy group in late September, the AANAA released an executive summary of the economic burdens of AD and other dementias in the black community. The summary, “Key Findings and Policy Recommendations: The Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementia,” was discussed at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 43rd Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., last fall.

With data generated from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the AANAA reported that older African Americans are two to three times more likely to develop AD than are their non-Hispanic Caucasian counterparts.