A major effort is underway to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia for older African Americans.
Neuroscientist Mark Gluck of Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) is leading a team that will use a five-year $1-million grant from the New Jersey Department of Health – obtained through a competition among states for funding from the federal Department of Health and Human Services – to teach people how to protect their brains through exercise. They hope to demonstrate that this improves memory and cognitive vitality, reducing people’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
“African Americans have twice the rate of Alzheimer’s disease as compared to the broader population,” says Gluck, a professor at RU-N’s Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience and co-director of Rutgers’ African-American Brain Health Initiative, “There is a growing appreciation among scientists and doctors that the causes of Alzheimer’s are complex – including not only genetic risk factors but also lifestyle, behavioral habits, and environment.”
Gluck says that the task of reducing the rate of Alzheimer’s disease is so complex that this three-way partnership among RU-N, the state and federal governments, and local churches, is essential to the progress he hopes to make in trying to improve brain health and reduce the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in this particularly vulnerable local community.
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