WASHINGTON, DC (NNPA) A new report released today finds that African Americans bear more than one-third of the nation’s costs of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, although they make up less than 14 percent of the population. The costs for African Americans in 2012 were nearly $71.6 billion, out of total national costs of $210 billion.
Health economists at Johns Hopkins University authored the report for the AfricanAmericanNetwork AgainstAlzheimer’s, launched today by the USAgainstAlzheimer’s Network—the national community of engaged individuals committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020—to unite and mobilize African Americans to speed the pace of research and build the movement to end Alzheimer’s.
The Network is guided by its Honorary Co-Chairs— Reverend Al Sharpton, former Surgeon General David Satcher, and former Bush and Obama Administration officials Kay Coles James and Melody Barnes. The Network’s Founders are leaders nationwide in policy, health, business, media and other areas—from organizations such as 100 Black Men of America, the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors, Citigroup, and the medical schools of Columbia, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
Other findings from the report include:
Nearly half of Alzheimer’s costs to African Americans are concentrated in Southern states.
Nearly 61% of costs ($43.6 billion) are for informal caregiving; other costs are nursing home care ($14.6 billion), lost productivity/wages for those aged 40-64 with Alzheimer’s/dementia ($6.1 billion), and medical costs ($5.5 billion).
As with other racial/ethnic groups, Medicare is the primary payer for medical costs (59%) and Medicaid for nursing homes, adult day care and assisted living (54%). African American families pay more than $3.45 billion out-of-pocket for these costs of care.
“The economic burden of Alzheimer’s on African Americans is stunning. The size of the burden is due to the greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s in this population,” said the report’s lead author Darrell Gaskin, PhD, deputy director, Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “With the growing number of African Americans over age 75, the prospect of more than one in three older African Americans with cognitive impairment will overwhelm families and our society.”
Dr. Gaskin will present the report’s highlights today at an Issues Forum sponsored by the African AmericanNetworkAgainstAlzheimer’s at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. Other speakers include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, of Maryland; Hillary Crosley of The Root and BET’s “After Hours;” and Dr. Jennifer Manly of Columbia University Medical Center. News anchor Barbara Harrison of NBC4-TV will moderate.
“I know firsthand the difficulties and challenges of having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the impact it can have on a family,” said Baker, whose wife has early-onset dementia. “African American families need to come together and support each other. The more people we can get to stand up and speak out, the closer we will be to overcoming this terrible disease.”
African Americans are two to three times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to develop Alzheimer’s—the nation’s sixth leading cause of death but the fourth leading cause for older African Americans. Racial differences in genetic risk factors do not account fully for these disparities.
“Alzheimer’s is one of the greatest public health challenges faced by the African American community and will become a much greater burden if we fail to act now,” said Dr. Satcher. “A strong investment now in prevention research could ward off most cases of Alzheimer’s by 2020 and change the trajectory of this disease and its insupportable burden on the African American community and our nation as a whole.”
The Network will develop local initiatives, encourage African Americans to register for Alzheimer’s research studies, and galvanize African Americans around ending Alzheimer’s, urging them to:
Stand Up: Join the fight at africanamericansagainstalzheimers.org or text ‘StopAlzAAN’ to 22828 to receive alerts for outreach to Congress, webinar/event invites, social media connections and more.
Speak Out: Insist that Alzheimer’s be a higher priority. Demand more resources for research, care and public education—and more attention to Alzheimer’s as a health crisis for African Americans.