SUWANEE __ An Alzheimer’s Association study shows that African Americans are twice as likely as whites, while Hispanics are one-and-a-half times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. It is a topic at the center of many studies, and an issue that alarms Jamie Lopez, vice president of healthcare for Constant Care Family Management, an affiliate company of The LaSalle Group. Lopez plans to educate Atlanta residents, especially minorities, about the disease and provide free seminars, support groups, outreach, memory testing, education, and free day stays to give caregivers a break. The company recently broke ground on Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf, its first memory care community in Georgia, and education is part of the company’s mission.
“The statistics are alarming, and they demonstrate the tremendous responsibility we have as a collective group to improve the numbers,” said Lopez. “We need to help educate the community so families can identify the early signs of Alzheimer’s, get access to treatment, and keep cognitive abilities as sharp as possible.”
Lopez points to several reasons why research suggests the frequency of Alzheimer’s is higher in minority populations. African Americans face a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, and Hispanics have a higher incidence of diabetes. Both diabetes and cardiovascular disease increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. A lack of access to information and a cultural belief that memory loss is a natural part of aging also play a role.
With World Alzheimer’s Month in September and National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in October, this is a critical time to shine a light on this epidemic. After all, one in eight Americans over 65 has Alzheimer’s in the United States.
Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf will offer free memory screenings at local events and in the community. The short screenings can reveal information about a deficit or potential problem with the way the brain processes information. Participants will receive an analysis to take to their doctor. The community will also bring in speakers, researchers and doctors to educate the public, and the staff will always be available to answer questions or share resources. On Wednesdays, the community will provide free respite care to the public. A caregiver can bring a loved one to the community for five hours for free, so the caregiver can go shopping, rest, and take a break without having to pay for a day stay program.
Jamie Lopez is available to share her Alzheimer’s expertise with the community. Autumn Leaves of Sugarloaf is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013. The 26,000 square foot community, designed for Alzheimer’s and dementia residents, will provide a compassionate home-like environment with the highest quality memory care available.