CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — February marks Black History Month and the Alzheimer’s Association is hoping to raise awareness. Studies reveal African Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia than whites.

Researchers can’t say why. They just don’t know. African Americans largely haven’t been included in clinical trials, despite the fact they represent more than 20 percent of the 5.5. million Americans stricken with Alzheimers and that makes it difficult to explain the disparity. What’s more, the Alzheimer’s Association said African Americans are less likely to get an early diagnosis.

Many people dismiss the warning signs, believing it’s simply old age. While there are currently no treatments to stop or even slow the progression of Alzheimers, the Association said early detection and diagnosis can allow for the earlier use of available treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help maintain independence longer.

“We want people to understand the importance of open and honest communication when it comes to memory loss,” said Melanie Adams, Director of Education & Outreach for the Alzheimers Association Illinois Chapter, in a statment. “It is so crucial to get a proper diagnosis and to know what you and your loved ones are facing.”

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s:

– Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
– Challenges in planning or solving problems.
– Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
– Confusion with time or place.
– Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
– New problems with words in speaking or writing.
– Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
– Decreased or poor judgment.
– Withdrawal from work or social activities.
– Changes in mood and personality.

The Alzheimers Association provides resources and materials for many diverse audiences, including information and issues that might be of concern to African-Americans. For more information, call the Alzheimers Association toll-free, 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/Illinois.