Cognitive Health

Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink and sets off the death of brain cells. It is the most common cause of dementia — which is a continual decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that can affect a person’s ability to function independently.

Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease, with over 1.1 million of those affected being African American. Out of the approximately 50 million people worldwide with dementia, between 60% and 70% are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are some of the early signs of the disease including forgetting recent events or conversations, as the disease progresses.


Memory Loss

Trouble with Everyday Task

Behavior/Mood Changes

Decision Making Difficulties

Memory loss is the key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms develop.

Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease lead to growing trouble with:


Thinking and Reasoning

Making judgments and decisions

Planning and performing familiar tasks

Changes in personality and behavior.

If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of these symptoms please reach out to your doctor.

How will I be tested for Alzheimer’s disease?

Only a doctor can diagnose Alzheimer’s or other brain conditions.

Here are a few ways in which you may be diagnosed:

Cognitive Screening
There are several types of screening test your doctor may use, usually they consist of a series of questions and simple tasks. The assessments are arranged to test how your memory is working. They are non-invasive and reasonably quick to perform

Your doctor might suggest you see a specialist who may perform additional tests. A specialist may be a eurologist
or geriatrician who have a specific expertise in Alzheimer’s and other brain conditions.

Support Is Important

The Balm In Gilead seeks to mobilize the faith community and raise awareness of the issues affecting cognitive health among African Americans via the capacity development of African Americans congregations to become an integral partner in:

Educating African Americans about Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Educating the African American community on behaviors that support risk reduction and healthy aging.

Increasing awareness about the need for early diagnosis.

How to effectively support caregivers.

Provide training and information to healthcare & public health professionals, regarding specific issues affecting cognitive health among African Americans.

Develop culturally tailored, faith-based tools and resources to be utilized by the health ministries to raise awareness about brain health and caregivers’ needs among African Americans within their congregations and communities.

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