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Did You Know…

Communities of color are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other Dementias? African-Americans are nearly two times more likely and Hispanics one and one-half times more likely to not only develop the disease more than white Americans, but use substantially more hospital, physician and home-health care while incurring significantly higher costs for those services. Despite this information, communities of color continue to be under-diagnosed and under-represented in health initiatives studying this disease.


Recognizing the emerging public health crisis Alzheimer's disease poses on African-American, Hispanic communities and other communities of color, the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute (WAI), with the support of Bader Philanthropies (formerly the Helen Bader Foundation) and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, developed an outreach program in the city of Milwaukee. The program was established in 2008, using principles of grassroots community engagement and capital investment. From the onset, the program incorporated asset based community development strategies to increase the community’s infrastructure and capacity to improve services and care options for people living with various types of dementia and their families.


Estimates are that 50% of the people who have Alzheimer's disease are not diagnosed and that 50% of the people who have been diagnosed are not treated appropriately. These estimates may be higher in minority communities for a variety of reasons:

  • Alzheimer's disease is more prevalent among African-Americans and Hispanics than among whites-with estimates ranging from 14% to almost 100% higher.
  • African-Americans and Hispanics are often diagnosed at later stages of the disease, limiting the effectiveness of treatments that depend on early intervention.

Hispanics are disproportionately represented in the older age groups most at risk for Alzheimer's disease and may be at greater risk to develop dementia than other ethnic or racial groups because of a higher prevalence of diabetes, a known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.


To ensure that elders in these communities are accurately diagnosed the Institute developed the Nation's first dementia diagnostic clinic specifically for African Americans within a federally Qualified Health Center. We provide culturally tailored training for professional and family caregivers and expert advice for working with ethnic, underserved and under-represented communities impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

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