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Raising Alzheimer’s Awareness in African American Faith Communities

Two peas in a pod

Navigating memory loss or caring for someone with memory loss can feel like navigating a maze. Some days may feel heavy, and the path may seem lonely. But remember, there’s a community that understands and supports you. On Memory Sunday, June 11, faith communities that serve people of African descent are reaching out to shatter the solitude.

Memory Sunday is a day dedicated to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and its disparate impact on African American communities. Memory Sunday is an initiative of The National Brain Health Center for African-Americans (The Balm In Gilead, Inc.). It is designed as an annual day of worship for faith institutions. The Memory Sunday concept was originally developed by the African American Dementia Outreach Partnership at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, which granted permission to The Balm in Gilead to adapt and utilize materials related to Memory Sunday campaign. This includes The Book of Alzheimer’s for African-American Churches.

While Memory Sunday focuses on faith-based organizations serving people of African descent, its message of awareness and support extends beyond religious boundaries. All are invited to participate and find solace within the shared community.

“Each voice is powerful, each story matters,” said Seattle Human Services Department Director Tanya Kim. “On Memory Sunday, let us honor those living with dementia and their caregivers by amplifying their stories and reinforcing that no one has to navigate this alone.”

This sense of community is increasingly important. We recognize that some communities face more formidable challenges, with less support. By 2040, the older African American population in Washington state is expected to nearly double. Alarmingly, their risk of Alzheimer’s is twice that of non-Hispanic whites. Memory Sunday is one effort to bridge these disparities and ensure everyone has access to necessary care and support.

With early detection and support, it is possible to live well with dementia. Check out “Tips from Washingtonians living well with dementia,” a Dementia Action Collaborative video on YouTube (00:05:27).

As we approach Memory Sunday, here are three actions that you can take to support friends and family navigating memory loss:

  1. Start a conversation: Spread this information within your circles. Ignite important conversations about memory loss and highlight the increased risks faced by the African American community. Advocacy can fuel early awareness and interrupt stigma.
  2. Connect and support: Reach out to fellow community members journeying through dementia. Even the simplest acts of companionship like sharing a meal can foster connection that is deeply meaningful.
  3. Attend a Memory Sunday event: You are warmly invited to participate in events hosted by participating faith communities. For details, contact them directly via their websites.

If you have questions about memory loss, Alzheimer’s, or other dementias, or need support, contact the nationwide Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or our local Community Living Connections at 844-348-5464 (Alzheimer’s Association Washington State is a network provider).

Karen WinstonContributor Karen Winston is a senior planner at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for King County, and a division of Seattle Human Services. Karen collaborates with African Americans Teach & Teach Health Ministry (AARTH) and Alzheimer’s Association Washington State to support Memory Sunday.

For more information about Memory Sunday or to request materials for your own faith community or other organization, e-mail