When actors in the play "Forget Me Not" take the stage tonight at the Grandel Theatre in St. Louis, they’ll have an important mission. They aim to raise awareness that African-Americans have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease than whites, and to provide tips about how to recognize the symptoms of the brain disease.
Playwright Garrett Davis, who heads the North Carolina-based theater troupe Gdavis Productions, wrote the play — produced by African-Americans Against Alzheimer’s — as an educational aid. The group is part of the national advocacy organization Us Against Alzheimer’s.
African-Americans are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than whites. Researchers identify a host of possible explanations for this disparity, including the higher incidence of health conditions that can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s — like high blood pressure and diabetes — as well as less access among blacks to high-quality medical care.
Yet African-Americans are underrepresented in clinical studies that research the causes of the disease, said Stephanie Monroe, executive director of African-Americans Against Alzheimer’s. She hopes “Forget Me Not” will encourage audiences to be more aware of potential Alzheimer’s symptoms in family members and perhaps participate in a study.
Proceeds will benefit National Black Nurses Association, co-presenter of the show.
”People are just unaware of the disease,” Monroe said. “There’s a lot of denial in the African-American community, and so we are able to put some sunlight on it and give them hope and some things that they can do.”
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If You Go
“Forget Me Not,” a play about African-Americans and Alzheimer’s
7 p.m. Wednesday
Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis