Even when she walked into her first meeting, Debra Johnson wasn’t convinced that a support group could help her family.
Her mother, Lucinda Clayton, now 90, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008 – but in the African American community, Johnson said, people generally don’t like to share concerns about their elders’ dementia. So how could the smiling circle of older white women at the Alzheimer’s Association group for caregivers possibly understand?
“I saw these little ladies, and I thought, ‘They don’t know what I’m going through,’ ” said Johnson, 55, who lives in Elk Grove and retired from the state to help care for her mother. “But those ladies were so embracing. Love them to death. We became a family.
“They were caregivers, just like I was, and they wanted to be engaged. This is something the black community needs to embrace.”
Within two decades’ time, Alzheimer’s Association research shows, the degenerative brain disease will boom in California’s minority populations, with the number of African Americans with Alzheimer’s expected to double by 2030 and the number of Latinos and Asian Americans expected to triple.
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