This commentary, written by Shane Beneke of the Alzheimer’s Association, was originally published by the Buckeye Flame and republished here with permission.
Alzheimer's not only affects LGBTQ+ adults, but also their spouses, a group that is vastly underrepresented in Alzheimer’s research.
June not only serves as Pride but also marks Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.
What do these two have to do with each other? Quite a bit.
According to a joint issue brief published by the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE, the current estimated population of adults aged 65 years or older is estimated at 47.8 million, with an additional 7 million LGBTQ+ people over the age of 50. That number is increasing rapidly as the baby boomers age and more people self-identify as LGBTQ+ later in life.
Now add in that an estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021. At some point in their lives, one in three older Americans will deal with dementia in some capacity.
Putting all these numbers together: a colossal number of older LGBTQ+ adults will be sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at some point.
This not only affects those LGBTQ+ adults, but also their spouses, a group that is vastly underrepresented in Alzheimer’s research.
To provide a space for an important dialogue on the experience of those spouses, the Alzheimer’s Association will be hosting a live, free webinar
on June 6 at 1 p.m. A leading expert will explain what we know today and how the participation of LGBTQ+ spouses is critical to advancing scientific understanding and prevention.
LGBTQ+ elders who receive a dementia diagnosis face a particularly challenging set of circumstances, as do the LGBTQ+ caregivers of those with dementia. Many LGBTQ+ older adults both fear and actually experience anti-LGBTQ+ bias and discrimination within health care institutions, which makes them less likely to seek out support. This can lead to social isolation, poverty and health disparities, which all can make an incredibly difficult disease even harder to navigate.
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The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to serving and engaging diverse populations in our fight against this disease, including providing a free online community on our website specific to the LGBTQ+ community
. ALZConnected includes a forum specifically for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies to connect with one another. Additionally, we offer a free 24/7 helpline staffed by licensed social workers to answer any questions related to dementia. The helpline can be reached at 800-272-3900.
“What We Know About LGBTQ+ Representation in Alzheimer’s Research,” a free webinar, will be held at 1 p.m. on June 6. Register here
To learn more about Alzheimer’s resources and how you can fight this disease this Pride and Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, please visit ALZ.org
or contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter
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