Protect the Memories: Don’t Sleep on Symptoms is a unique series focused on early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sidney Poitier, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rosa Parks. You know their names and you’re familiar with the iconic social, political, and cultural shifts they created. But what you may not know is that all three of these legends suffered from the same disease: Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, well-known individuals aren’t the ones who get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. You probably have friends and family who’ve been affected by the brain disorder. You might even be a caregiver for someone who has it, or be wondering about your own health.

Stats show that Black people are two times more likely than white Americans to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. But knowledge is our greatest armor in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Check out these facts about the disease:

  • A Black doctor helped introduce Alzheimer’s research

Yep. His name was Solomon Carter Fuller. He was hired by Alois Alzheimer, the German doctor who discovered the “peculiar disease” in the early 1900s, to research many of the symptoms that we now know about today. 

  • Alzheimer’s affects communication between brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease disrupts how cells talk to each other. The effects vary. Someone can become so forgetful that they can’t complete daily routines. Some people may find it hard to speak or write. This can lead to mood swings or hallucinations.  

(We often confuse Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, FYI. There are more than 400 dementias. Alzheimer’s accounts for a large percentage of dementia cases.)

  • The majority of Alzheimer’s cases are 65 and older. 

Symptoms can become worse as people grow older. People tend to think this is part of the natural aging process. It’s not.

  • Billions of dollars go into Alzheimer’s disease research each year.

Federal spending in 2020 on research to fight Alzheimer’s disease and dementia reached $3.1 billion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There’s no cure yet, but drugs do exist that slow the pace of memory loss. 

A 2020 study found that managing other health concerns, such as high blood pressure and diabetes may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Keep following this series to learn about practical tools for strengthening memory, simple ways to support a loved one who may have Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, and efforts to advance research about preventing the spread of the disease in our community.

We would love to hear from you and hear your story about how Alzheimer’s disease has impacted you and your family. Fill out the form below to share your story.