Saturday, November 11, AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s, an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s network, will present the national award-winning play, Forget Me Not, at the Royal Missionary Baptist Church (1807 Pearson Street) from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
The play, directed by Garrett Davis of the Forget Me Not Project, takes the audience into the life of a family facing Alzheimer’s disease and shows the disease’s impact on relationships between family members, friends and people in the community. Alzheimer’s affects African Americans at higher rates than other ethnicities, and the battle against the disease requires community-level efforts to prevent, slow and cure it.
“We need to band together to increase minority participation – and African American participation in particular – in clinical trials. It’s the only way to ensure that new drugs, treatments, and therapies are both safe and effective for our community,” said Stephanie Monroe, director of African Americans Against Alzheimer’s, who was named Humanitarian of the Year by the National Baptist Congress in 2014 for her Alzheimer’s outreach activities. “By going straight to the heart of communities, we hope to spread the word and make a real difference.”
The Forget Me Not production is sponsored by the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation due to its commitment to increase representation of underserved minorities in Alzheimer’s clinical trials. The event is also supported by the Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center.
The showing of the Forget Me Not play will be immediately followed by a discussion with Davis and a local panel of Alzheimer’s experts. The experts will answer important questions about medical and social services available in their communities and share how researchers are working to find ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s. Included in the panel is Vernon Williams, a Korean War veteran, an Alzheimer’s patient and clinical trials participant.
The panel will include the following participants:
- Vernon Williams, Veteran and Alzheimer’s Research participant, and his wife and caregiver Hortense who is a retired LPN.
- Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, Executive Director, Roper St. Francis Research & Innovation Center
- Dr. Thaddeus Bell, Founder, Closing the Gap in Healthcare
- Jamie Roper, Mayor’s Office on Aging
- Tina Davis, Director of Community Outreach and Health Advocacy, First Choice VIP Care Plus, Dementia Dialogues
- Sheila Lewis, Alzheimer’s Association, Midlands Region
- Garrett Davis, Director, GDavis Productions
- Stephanie J. Monroe, J.D, Executive Director of African Americans Against Alzheimer’s, an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s network
African Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to develop Alzheimer’s disease, yet they are less likely to be diagnosed. While Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, it is the fourth-leading cause of death for older African Americans. Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the top 10 with no cure, treatment or prevention.
Like African Americans, veterans are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias than the general population. A new report, Veterans and Alzheimer’s: Meeting the Crisis Head On, shows that that veterans face unique risk factors for Alzheimer’s as a direct result of their military service, including post-traumatic stress, depression, traumatic brain injury, and blast-induced neurotrauma.
A critical factor in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is participation in clinical trials, the step-by-step process testing new procedures, drugs, or vaccines for prevention, treatment, screening or improving quality of life. African Americans make up more than 13 percent of the population but comprise only 5 percent of all clinical trial participants. And this participation rate is even lower for older African Americans, who are more likely to develop the disease.
“We hope that hosting events like this will help people understand that these issues critically impact our communities,” said Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, Executive Director, Roper St. Francis Research and Innovation Center. “We will need the support and participation of everyone including the African American community, to ensure the national goal of finding a cure by the national goal of 2025.”
“Alzheimer’s and dementia are among the most serious medical challenges we face here in South Carolina,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “Initiatives like this one are a great way to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of research and early detection, which can make a critical difference to many families.”
For more information on the Forget Me Not production, visit http://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/networks/african-americans/aan-outreach-events. Watch a video of the Forget Me Not stage play at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSiLm7nmOGU.
The event is free of charge but attendees are asked to pre-register here (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/forget-me-not-tickets-37729502959).