Copy Editor: Audrielle Tackett
Note: This report was published by Florida International University and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. Coauthors Maria Aranda, William Vega, Jason Richardson, and Jason Resendez highlight the scientific findings discussed at the Florida International University symposium “Presenting Brain Health in Disadvantaged Communities: Exploring Pathways to Intervention Development,” in order to make recommendations for future brain health interventions.
Alzheimer’s is defined as having short-term memory, confusion and behavioral changes. As of 2018, it affected almost six million Americans. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law, with the end goal of curing Alzheimer’s by 2025.
Research shows that older racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. are the most prone to Alzheimer’s. Latinos and African Americans are found to have a higher risk of dementia. It is estimated that by 2030, 40% of American’s living with Alzheimer’s or dementia will either be Latino or African American. Although Latinos and African Americans are found to be prone to such diseases, they still account for less than 5% of all Alzheimer’s and dementia trials in the United States.
There is a need for more research to find options that do not require pills to fight or cure Alzheimer’s. However, researchers have already found that some nonpharmacological methods that reduce the risk of these diseases are exercising, eating well, keeping good health conditions, avoiding diabetes, staying social, not smoking, and not drinking excessively. Managing these factors can prevent up to one-third of all dementia cases.
There were four topline research findings said to be priorities in brain health intervention:
- Intervention research should include gene-environment, lifestyle, life course and chronic disease factors
- Combine gene-environment interaction and nonpharmacologic interventions with clinical and nonclinical research
- Promote nonpharmacological intervention as an alternative method to medicine
- Start federal government pilot research projects, meaning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should have more preparedness in chronic disease programs
Multi-Dimensional Brain Health Intervention Framework
There are four main parts to the multi-dimensional brain health intervention framework:
- Understanding that genetic and environmental factors take part in the cause of Alzheimer’s
- Risk and protective factors take place from different experiences like life course, social engagements, and learning opportunities
- Realizing brain health solutions should work for multiple life courses including education, diet, and physical activity
- Interventions should be able to support different racial and ethnic minorities, low-income families, and limited-English speaker