Alzheimer’s Event on March 3 Examines Health Disparities and Alzheimer’s Disease

COVID-19 has laid bare some undesirable truths: underserved communities are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia, statistics point to a similarly troubling trend.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, for instance, African Americans are about twice as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia and Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to have Alzheimer’s. Additionally, African Americans are more prone to risk factors for vascular disease — like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — which may also be risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and stroke-related dementia.

Which is why the Alzheimer’s Association is striving for health equity in the delivery of service and research.

On March 3, the Association is hosting the Dr. James S. Jackson Seminar on Health Equity and Alzheimer’s Disease virtually from 5-6:30 p.m. to discuss the latest research involving underserved communities.

The event — named to honor Dr. James Jackson’s rigorous research at the University of Michigan — brings together some of the nation’s top experts in the field of health equity and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Carl V. Hill, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, and Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., director of the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology and president of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), will host the event.

Speakers and topics for the event include:
• Targeting Chronic Stress and Blood Pressure Self-Care to Prevent Cognitive Decline in African Americans Across the Lifespan – Kathy D. Wright, Ph.D., APRN-CNS, The Ohio State University College of Nursing, Chronic Brain Injury Program, Alzheimer’s Research Center of Excellence
• Health Inequality Contributes to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: The Case of West Virginia – Bernard G. Schreurs, Ph.D., West Virginia University School of Medicine, WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
• Alzheimer’s Disease and COVID-19: The Vicious Cycle of Inequality – Irving E. Vega, Ph.D., Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease
• Culturally Responsive Caregiver Support: Developing Interventions for Everyone – Sheria G. Robinson-Lane, Ph.D., MSN, MHA, RN, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

With new research just out from Case Western Reserve University showing African Americans with dementia have close to three times the risk of being infected with COVID-19 as white individuals with dementia, the event is particularly timely.

“These are difficult times with caregiving, caregiving while reducing risk for COVID-19,” said Dr. Hill, who grew up in College Park, Ga., and witnessed challenges for accessing quality health care. “There is a high level of anxiety and stress, but I believe this is a real opportunity for us to pursue equity in terms of engaging those communities with information, care and support.”

Jennifer Lepard, Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter president and CEO, said at the national level the Alzheimer’s Association is committed to not only funding diverse initiatives – like the new IDEAS study, whose goal is to enroll 4,000 African American and Latino participants to determine if amyloid PET scans improve diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease – but also committed to working with national partners to ensure that early detection and diagnosis initiatives reach all communities.

Locally, the Michigan Chapter works with community members and partners representing a wide range of underserved populations and communities to understand needs and provide support and services.

“Our goal as an Association is to work toward a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. We can’t do that without research, and we can’t do that without listening to and understanding the needs of diverse communities locally,” Lepard said. “While we already work with some amazing partners and entities, we’re always looking to connect with others who can help us work on solutions that might help us ensure greater equity in our communities.”

To register for the Dr. James S. Jackson Seminar on Health Equity and Alzheimer’s Disease, visit: alz.org/jackson-seminar. For more information and support, visit alz.org or call the Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

Chamber’s Research Team Shares Regional Data Insights at National Conference

Representing the Detroit region, the Chamber’s research team attend the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The national conference, which took place June 3 to June 7, convened more than 315 community and economic researchers.

Christyn Lucas, manager of business research for the Chamber, participated in a session titled Integrating Multiple Economies Within One Region exploring how individual communities must look beyond their borders and include nearby areas within a larger region when marketing themselves. Doing so can better help regional economists target meaningful and actionable data. Panelists discussed how regions such as Charlotte, North Carolina, Detroit, and other metropolitan areas share a labor shed — an area from which an employment center draws its commuting workers — with counties that have seen major economic transformation over the past two decades. They also explored how researchers can uncover the multiple economies within their regions and link “new economy” opportunities to “old economy” areas.

Lucas presented on Detroit’s automotive industry transformation and expansion into the mobility space along with Workforce Intelligence Network’s Michelle Wein and representatives from the Charlotte region.

“The transformation of the Detroit region — from automotive to mobility — over the past decade resonated with attendees from across the country, who also have experienced changes to their industry footprints and economies,” Lucas said. “Sharing best practices at this conference, focused on data and research, proves to be a valuable way to connect and improve the economies of all regions.”

Angela Ladetto, director of business research for the Chamber, participated in The Data-ing Game, a session reminiscent of the popular game show, The Dating Game. Guest contestants were asked several questions by a St. Louis-based site selection consultant. Contestants shared stories and best practices regarding how they use data to create compelling business propositions that resulted in a corporate investment win. At the end of the session, the site consultant crowned one lucky contestant winner.

“Getting together every year with 300-plus research professionals at the annual C2ER conference is a great way to stay abreast of research best practices, to learn more about other regions’ ongoing research, and discover new tools,” Ladetto said.