Play Brings Alzheimer’s Awareness to the African-American Community
Baylor College of Medicine’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center, African-Americans Against Alzheimer’s and GD Productions are teaming up to bring Garrett Davis’ national award-winning stage play, “Forget Me Not,” to Houston. Through the play, they hope to raise awareness within the African-American community about their accelerated risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects over 5 million Americans.
African-Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia than other groups, and are less likely to be diagnosed and treated. While researchers are not certain why their risk is so much higher, they do have on solution that will hopefully lower rates.
Clinical Psychologist Caryn Glosch, Ph.D., works with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Baylor College of Medicine. She believes that if more African-Americans were involved in research studies, researchers would know more about what is causing their susceptibility to the disease.
“One of the major issues with this, and part of the reason why we are partnering with African-Americans Against Alzheimer’s and local community groups to bring “Forget Me Not” to the city, is because African-Americans tend to be underrepresented in research,” said Glosch. “We are seeing these trends that African-Americans are more susceptible to the disease, but because they are not participating in research, it is very difficult to get really good answers to that.”
Glosch also points out that early detection of Alzheimer’s makes a big difference for patients and their loved ones.
“My primary job is to help patients and families, after they have received their diagnosis, to understand what that diagnosis actually means,” she said. “I think a lot of people have very different pictures in their head of what Alzheimer’s really means. It can be very scary, but life does not end with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Many in the African-American community go untreated because they do not go to the doctor to be checked out. While there is not a definitive test to see whether you have Alzheimer’s disease, Glosch says there are many symptoms people can look for.
“One of the big issues for any family, especially for African-American families who have a history of Alzheimer’s disease, is that there are normal changes that happen as we age. In normal aging, we tend to be a bit more forgetful; we may forget where our keys are and things like that,” said Glosch. “For folks who have early stages of Alzheimer’s, they have a very difficult time holding onto new information. They may forget a conversation they had with someone, they may ask questions repeatedly. Things that indicate they do not recall the information that they have been given before. Those are some early signs that people can be on the lookout for, but I think if there is any concern about memory changes and any family history to go ahead and go to the doctor and get checked out.”
On Saturday, August 1, “Forget Me Not,” Garrett Davis’ national award-winning play will be performed at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are free of charge, but do require pre-registration.
“I hope ultimately that the play brings awareness of Alzheimer’s and the increased risk within the African-American community. I hope that people go to their doctor and checked out. Also, that African-Americans see this as a call to arms that we need to be involved with research because we are being hit with this disease with a greater impact than other races, so we need to be a part of the cure,” said Glosch.
To pre-register for tickets, please go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/forget-me-not-tickets-16939349049