UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity Spotlights the 41 Congressional Districts with the Highest Prevalence of Alzheimer’s among Blacks and Latinos
Calls for new action to improve access to effective treatments, strengthen prevention and improve brain health in communities of color
Washington, D.C. (July 20, 2021) – UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity released a new data brief today highlighting the 41 congressional districts with the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) among Black Americans and Latinos in the traditional Medicare program. The brief details how government leaders can take action to help these hard-hit communities of color.
The UsAgainstAlzheimer’s data brief:
- Identifies the 41 congressional districts that overlap with the top 25 counties with the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s among Black and Latino Americans in the Medicare Fee for Service program.
- Highlights the social determinants of health and systemic inequities prevalent in these districts.
- Makes recommendations for policymakers to advance brain health equity in hard-hit communities.
Whether in an urban area such as Miami-Dade County, Florida, or thousands of miles away in more rural places such as Humphreys County, Tennessee, families living in the congressional districts most impacted by Alzheimer’s among Blacks and Latinos are connected by systemic inequities that deserve urgent action.
These counties – and the congressional districts that represent them - are home to families that are less likely to have health insurance, less likely to have access to exercise opportunities, and less likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher. At the same time, they are more likely to have lower incomes and more likely to report poor health than families living in counties with lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease.
The 41 congressional districts cover 17 different states, with Texas having the largest number of districts – 12 overall – with eight congressional districts in the top 25 counties for Blacks and seven in the top 25 counties for Latinos. The 21st Congressional District in Texas, which covers the area north and west of San Antonio and parts of Austin, was on both top 25 lists.
“Public policy and public health have been too slow to address the effects of place on overall health, especially on brain health, and that must change,” said Jason Resendez, Executive Director of the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity. “It’s time to invest in research and public health interventions to address the social determinants of health that are interlinked with dementia risk.”
“Black and Latino Americans live with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's or dementia but too often face barriers that prevent them from receiving a timely diagnosis or quality treatment and care,” said Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV-04), whose district is featured in the brief as one with a high prevalence of Alzheimer’s in communities of color. “The past year has highlighted a drastic gap when it comes to equitable care, and we must take action to address the social determinants of health that hurt communities of color. I am committed to enacting legislation that provides paid family and medical leave so families can care for their loved ones.”
“For millions of American families, including my own, Alzheimer’s disease is very personal. After seeing two parents through Alzheimer’s disease and serving as a caregiver myself, I know how critical a timely diagnosis is for patients and their families. But too often patients, especially in communities of color, may never get one at all,” said Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38), who is the lead sponsor for the CHANGE Act in the House of Representatives. “Today, as people of color face higher risk of developing the disease, reports like this are so important for understanding what can be done to address disparities in access to diagnosis and care. I would like to thank Us Against Alzheimer’s for their continued efforts to empower us with the information we need to help make life better for patients and families.”
At a Capitol Hill briefing today, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s will call for action in four policy areas, specifically asking Congress to:
- Invest in public health, treatment, and research infrastructure in communities hard-hit by Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
- Invest in educational and economic opportunity to reduce social inequities.
- Establish an ambitious national goal to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and address disparities in early detection and diagnosis.
- Collect better data to identify and address gaps in access to Alzheimer’s health services and research for underserved communities.
The congressional brief released today is the latest in the work by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s to raise the visibility of inequities in brain health and to drive action through targeted public health and research interventions.
“Where people are born, live, learn, work, and play can have a profound effect on a person’s health, including their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” said Stephanie Monroe, Executive Director of AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s, a network of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “These social determinants of health cause a ripple effect of inequities, including in brain health.”
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Urban Institute, with support from the National Minority Quality Forum, analyzed Medicare data to identify the counties with the highest and lowest prevalence of Alzheimer’s by race and ethnicity and identified trends related to SDOH among these highly impacted communities. That report, Place & Brain Health Equity: Understanding the County-Level Impacts of Alzheimer’s, was released in November 2020.
The analysis released today overlays the congressional districts representing those counties with the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s among Blacks and Latinos.
To read the full report, click here.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s exists to conquer Alzheimer’s disease. We take on the toughest problems; bring all of “Us” together to break down barriers; advocate for research that will speed treatments to market; and drive changes that matter most to people living with the disease. We will not rest until brain-span equals lifespan - for everyone.