Caregiver Coach PAT Bailey is knowledgeable on the disease and the necessary caregiver process, as she works with the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) on its historic Healthy & Aging Brain Study, previously known as the Black Alzheimer’s Brain Study.

This study targets both the 30- to 49-year-olds and the 50+, plus it aims to help identify through research why Alzheimer’s and related dementia severely impact the Black & Brown community two to three times more than their white counterparts. 

Coach PAT Bailey

Dr. Sid O’Bryant, the executor director for the Institute of Translational Research (ITR) for HSC says it is important to identify the earliest signs and symptoms to better understand the risk factors over a lifespan. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), changes in the brain may occur a decade or more before you show it. 

There are more than 2,000 Black and Hispanic participants ages 50+ who have participated in the study. The study is designated for people in this specific age range because it is deemed the critical point for early detection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in two Black households are impacted by Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. 

SOURCE: Adapted from Alzheimer’s Association, 2010. Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment among Americans Aged 55 and Older (rate per 1,000 population) by Age and Race/Ethnicity, 2006 Health and Retirement Study 

The CDC also said the disease is more prevalent among people 65 and older; African Americans have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, followed by Hispanics and non-Latino whites.

PAT wants Black households to know what they are up against should this diagnosis make its way to their doorstep and if it does, learn the skills they need to be a successful caregiver.

“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1997 right after I left Chicago. Her death changed the entire trajectory of my life,” PAT said.

She instantly became a caregiver to her mother until her death in 2004. One  of the challenges PAT encountered during that time was sourcing resources from the federal government allocated to seniors suffering from the disease.

“When I went looking for those resources, I quickly found that they were not available,” she said.

PAT said she learned a lot being immediately thrust into her role as caregiver and wants families to know that “a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease for the individual is a diagnosis of caregiving for the family.” 

How does it develop? Dr. O’Bryant says common health ailments that have plagued the African-American community for centuries could be the root causes leading to the diagnosis.

“Genetics, stress, hypertension, racial discrimination, diabetes, etc. can increase the likelihood of Alzheimer’s,” he said. The brain and heart need similar things; a healthy heart leads to a healthy brain.” 

The purpose behind the work at HSC Health and Aging Brain Study – Health Disparities is to catch and prevent the diagnosis later in life. Through targeted, culturally-sensitive outreach, HSC’s team of doctors, scientists and educators are working to build continued confidence in the groundbreaking study funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, which emphasizes the need for such research.

The demographics and makeup of the DFW metroplex is perfect for the Health and Aging Brain Study as it is currently like what the demographics of the entire rest of the United States will become in the coming decades,” shares Dr. O’Bryant.

PAT has dedicated over 15 years to helping the elderly and caregivers navigate the complexities of this disease or “phases of life” as she calls it.

For more information visit www.habshd.com or phone 817-735-2963 to participate in the research study. For caregiver support reach PAT at www.findingnewtomorrows.com.