We talked with Dr. Marisa Menchola from the Alzheimer’s Association Board. We looked at their annual report (Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures Report) honing in on Arizona’s impact and numbers, as well as some of the disparities in healthcare. The special report is dubbed “Race, Ethnicity, and Alzheimer’s in America”. The report revealed high numbers of Covid related dementia deaths and AZ leads the nation.
Menchola said they have over 6 million adults that are 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s in the US. She said they expect this to be over 7 million in 2025. She said they expect to also be over 12 1/2 million by 2050. Arizona has the fastest growth rate for Alzheimer’s disease in the nation. Arizona is expected to see a 33% increase between 2020 and 2025. Arizona is expected to go from 150,000 people to 200,000 people living with dementia. She said this creates a strain on families, communities and healthcare systems/social service programs.
We asked why we lead the nation in this category. Menchola said there are probably many reasons. One reason is the rapidly aging population in Arizona. For many, Arizona is a retirement location. She also said an increasingly diverse population most likely also has to do with it because many other races have a much higher chance of Alzheimer’s than white Americans. We ask about examples of disparities in health care. She said the Alzheimer’s Association commissioned large surveys of black, Hispanic, native and Asian American adults. She said they found there were consistent disparities for adults from ethnic-racial minorities.
She goes into the disparities from many different aspects, including caregivers. She talks about some of the discriminations in the healthcare system. Some reported experiences include being offered if you serviced, like not being offered surgeries or being talked down to. We also ask how to address The disparities in the growing numbers of Alzheimer’s patients. Menchola said there is a need to increase the racial representation in dementia research and she also said to continue advocating for appropriate reimbursement for comprehensive dementia care.