Article4 AKA Health Program

The Prince George’s County, Md. Upsilon Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is using its influence to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the nation’s leading diseases among Black Americans.

The sorority partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, a global health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research, to launch the “The Longest Day” event on June 18 as part of their activities during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month.

“Our goal for this program is to share information with residents about the signs and disease of Alzheimer’s and how it affects family members and friends who have to deal with loved ones who have it and to encourage people today to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association,” Danaeka L. Spear, the chapter’s president told the AFRO.

According to the association’s website, the national partnership “will engage both campus and alumni members of AKA through local community outreach efforts and participation.”

The association said many Americans dismiss the disease’s warning signs, such as confusion with time or place, memory loss and problems with speaking or writing among others.

As part of their education initiative, the group handed out information booklets, posted items on their social media outlets and performed three flash mob routines at Bowie Town Center, a local Wegmans, and a local Giant grocery store. Forty members of the sorority also danced to hits such as Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time,” wearing Alzheimer’s awareness T-shirts.

“There is no cure to Alzheimer’s,” said Genesta Belton, a member of the chapter. “My father had Alzheimer’s and when you hear about ‘the longest goodbye,’ it’s true. He suffered six years before his death in 1996 and it was sad to see him deteriorate mentally.”

Black Americans are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and are about two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s than their White counterparts, according to the association. There is also a greater familial risk of developing Alzheimer’s among Blacks than Whites.

In 2014, the chapter also formed a series of “Community Service Day” projects, encouraging members worldwide to host various target programs for Alzheimer’s awareness.

“We want to reverse the growing trend of late diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans and to help them find affordable ways to get the latest information on treatments, research and care,” said Tia Belton, vice president of the chapter.