More African Americans at risk for dementia - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Conditions That Put Some More At Risk

More African Americans at risk for dementia

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When it comes to dementia and Alzheimer's ,many Americans dismiss the warning signs, believing the symptoms are a normal part of aging.  This is of even greater concern in the  African-American community.

Cola Harris, wife of Alzheimer's patient  says "They never used the term dementia and Alzheimer's. I believe when they say they're just senile  and I've heard that in our community."

Cola knows first hand how dementia and Alzheimer's disease can affect a family.  Her husband Henry was diagnosed back in 2011.

Cola Harris says "It was the forgetting and asking me over and over again the same thing, so I knew then there was a problem."

"Medical experts say a big part of the reason behind this trend is that African-Americans are at greater risk for the conditions that lead to dementia."  

Channel 3 spoke with  Regional Behavioral Health Care nurse, Eden Jabaley.

Eden Jabaley says "The key component of that is people with hypertension and diabetes don't always develop dementia, it's the ones that do not have well controlled conditions."

Cola Harris says "He had a very hard time controlling his high blood pressure."

Eden says in addition to early detection and treatment, when it comes to diet and being active, making lifestyle changes are crucial.

Eden Jabaley says "An individual has to take responsibility for their own health and where they are headed in life."

And Cola says that starts with education. She and Henry are part of a support group with the local Alzheimer's Association.

Cola Harris says "They need to know there is help out there, you don't have to feel you're in this alone."

And that can make not only a big difference for the patient,but the caregiver as well.

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