African Americans twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease

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INDIANAPOLIS — Their relationship has changed, but not even Alzheimer’s can break the bond between this mother and daughter.

“That is my mom, she took good care of us, so now I want to make sure that I take good care of her,” said Hazel Utley.

From doing puzzles, to drinking water, to getting out of a chair and even walking, Utley is her mother’s no. 1 caregiver.  At times it has been stressful.

“Very.  Yes it is, I am not going to exaggerate,” said Utley.  “It is a challenge, it is a major challenge, but that is my mother.”

Utley is named after her mother.  She has been caring for her 87-year-old mom for seven years, ever since her mother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Utley said, looking back, the early signs of the disease were obvious.

“You would weird things in the refrigerator,” said Utley.  “Things that would belong in the refrigerator would be in the pantry.  Would not take the trash out.”

On bad days,  her mom does not say much, but on good days she is very talkative.

On good days – well – take a listen.

Utley knows the words her mother speaks is not English most of the time, but it is her mother talking.  Research has shown African Americans are twice as likely to contract the disease.  Anita Gaillard with the Alzheimer’s Association says it is still a mystery why the illness chooses who it chooses.

“It is not preventable and it is not curable,” said Gaillard.

Alzheimer’s Disease, and the continued mystery behind is something that hits close to Gaillard’s heart.  Her mother has the illness.

“The one thing that she says that I can understand is ‘I love you.’  Which is really neat,” said Gaillard.

Hazel said she will continue to approach each day focusing on the good, hoping for a good day.

“I am just happy she is still with me,” said Utley.

Here are some warning signs if you think someone you know my have Alzheimer’s:

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty Doing Familiar Tasks
  • Problems Writing or Talking
  • Confusion About Time and Place
  • Loss of Judgment
  • Problems With Abstract Thinking
  • Misplacing Things
  • Changes in Mood or Behavior
  • Loss of Motivation

If you have questions or concerns, you can call the 24/7 Alzheimer’s Association helpline.  You can find that number on this website.


  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    >n African Americans are twice as likely to contract the disease.

    Since when? As a Black man, that is a little disconcerting!

  • Randy

    Joe, how does one "weird things in a refrigerator?" And "Hazel knows the words her mother speaks IS not English most of the time, but it is her mother talking." Shouldn't it be "words ARE not English?" And what, Joe, is the language she is speaking if not English? Russian? Swahili? One might not understand the words, and they might not make any sense, but it's a good bet they're English if that's her primary language.

    C'mon, Joe! You can do better than this!

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      Typically when a sentence is in quotes, it's direct quote from someone so your first complaint isn't Joe's fault.

      The second complain is legit. But C'mon. You know journalism any more is about throwing some s### up on the internet anymore. In fact, most news sites are nothing more than glorified and station-sanctioned blogs.

      Lastly, the words spoken are most likely gibberish. I saw a woman once suffering from this illness and she was nonsensical words that only she seemed to understand. I suppose it's possible she was possessed though and the words were some sort of long lost language.

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