INDIANAPOLIS — A newly released report puts the data behind what some say they already knew when it comes to the attitudes on Alzheimer’s and dementia care in minority communities.
“It is a very serious disease. The more I learn about it, the more I hate it,” Ralph Richards said.
It is a disease that has personally touched the Richards family. Mollie’s dad lived with dementia for 12 years and Ralph’s good friend died from Alzheimer’s.
The couple is dedicating their retirement to trying to build trust, spread awareness and encourage research when it comes to dementia, particularly in the Black and Brown communities. In New York and Indiana, the couple have been advocates and volunteer community educators.
“I think that things are changing. It hasn’t changed and it is changing but only because we’re finding it’s getting more press. The Alzheimer’s association is becoming more sensitive to having people to talk to people in the community that looks just like them. That’s where we come in,” Ralph said.
The newly released report, called “Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer’s in America,” examines attitudes towards Alzheimer’s and dementia care among minority communities.
“I was happy that it was in print and I was happy that the information that I had felt in my heart was in print, but I was sad that it was true,” Mollie said.
The report states that 66% of Black Americans believe it is harder for them to get excellent care for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and 62% of Black Americans believe that medical research is biased against people of color.
“I knew it existed, but I didn’t know how extensive it was,” Ralph said.
It also detailed 40% of Native Americans, 39% of Hispanic Americans and 34% of Asian Americans also feel it is “harder to get care.” The report also details data describing a lack of trust and confidence in areas like medical research and finding a cure.
“You can’t really dress this topic up to be pretty and really soft and mushy. We always let people know that there is hope and there is a source and resources to get information,” Ralph said.
The Richards are leading by example. Mollie is participating in local research and said she hopes the data and findings from this report inspire change. Ralph agrees.
“We need to educate, educate, educate, educate the community. We need to be promoting more minority young people to become a part of research and more medical specialties,” Ralph said.
On the research front, a $125,000 Diversity Recruitment Supplement was granted by the Alzheimer’s Association to the Indiana University School of Medicine LEADS study. It is looking at younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Both the Richards and the Alzheimer’s Association want to remind Hoosiers, there are resources available. The 24/7, 365 days a year helpline can be reached at 800-272-3900.