2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference
New studies reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017 suggest that stressful life experiences and neighborhood conditions contribute to dementia risk later in life and that they disproportionately impact African Americans.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease this year, including 360,000 in Texas. The national number is expected to triple by 2050 if a treatment is not found. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in Texas and the Medicaid costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s has totaled to over $2.49 billion in 2017.
Learning more about risk factors, biology, and early life conditions is essential in detecting dementia risk in late life. These findings support the need for targeted interventions, both preventive and service-driven, to help address the gaps we know exist. In addition to more research, the Alzheimer’s Association is particularly interested in increasing understanding of stigma and concern related to Alzheimer’s and other dementias in diverse communities.
The studies presented at AAIC found:
- Among African Americans, stressful life events across the lifespan predicted cognitive function more strongly than established risk factors including age, education, and the APOE-e4 Alzheimer’s risk gene.
- People in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods had worse cognitive performance in all memory and cognition tests, even after adjusting for age and education.
- Early life conditions, such as being born in an area with high infant mortality rates, is associated with a variety of poor health conditions and higher risk of dementia in late life.