PRLog - Feb. 11, 2010 - MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Aging and dementia expert, Dr. Zoë A. Lewis warns, “African Americans unable to afford insurance or medications are turning to the emergency rooms for care, but they reach the doors well after the damage is done." Dr. Lewis, a hospitalist working in Jacksonville, Florida observed. “Some ERs treat all comers, so the fact that someone comes in without insurance wont get them turned away. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms are severe enough forcing individuals to come to these ERs, they are seriously ill, often needing intensive care. This is especially true of African Americans with vascular diseases that come in with heart attacks, stroke and uncontrolled blood pressures and diabetes. Many have advanced and irreversible disease by the time they seek help." Dr. Lewis sites studies which show 65% of black Medicare beneficiaries have hypertension compared to only half of white beneficiaries, while blacks have a 60% higher risk for type 2 diabetes than do whites. Dr. Lewis affirms, “This concern can be seen as a Black History issue, if you choose to look at it that way. These diseases are part of the medical history here, and screening needs to be part of African American collective awareness, like Tay Sachs disease screening prior to pregnancy for those of Jewish ancestry. Healthcare reform that enables screening at no cost needs to kick in immediately. We need to see ‘the greatest good for the greatest need ideology’ at work now. African Americans will benefit from the awareness that they are more likely to suffer from illness that leads to early death including heart attack and stroke, kidney failure leading to dialysis, peripheral vascular disease, blindness, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. By the time many do get help, it is often too late for easy management.”
Zoe A Lewis, MD, FACP, Diplomate American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care
Zoë A. Lewis, MD, FACP is the author of two books on Alzheimer’s disease, radio show producer and host of ‘Hospice Radio’ an internet- based program on Blogtalkradio and hospitalist. “ For a multitude of challenging reasons, including poverty, noncompliance and simple ignorance about irreversibility of advanced disease, many folks with known vascular disease and diabetes remain un or undertreated, leading to progressive and irreversible damage to their kidneys, brain, hearts and eyes. Healthcare reform needs to tackle this issue; it makes no sense when greater outreach could ease the burdens, both financial and personal for everyone. We need to do a better job educating our citizens these diseases will kill if untreated and can be controlled if detected and managed early.
Another point close to her work with dementia Dr. Lewis notes, “With higher rates of vascular disease among African Americans we should not be surprised, but alarmed, by the numbers who are unaware a loved one with mental decline stems from vascular type dementia. It is a grave report card on our healthcare system when folks don’t know a loved one has evolved to moderate or advanced stage dementia by the time they understand what is going on. In recognition of February as Black History Month, the Alzheimer’s Association has special resources available for the African-American population online at alz.org/africanamerican.
Dr. Zoë A. Lewis is the author of two bestselling books on Alzheimer’s and dementia, “I Hope They Know: The Essential Handbook on Alzheimer’s Disease and Care” and “Espero que sepan: La guía holística para la enfermedad de Alzheimer”, both resources are written for a basic language skill reader and are listed resources with the National Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Lewis is a locum tenens physician at Shands Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fl. She is an education activist on aging and end-of-life care issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and offers free community resources through her philantropic work and radio programs.
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The website www.zoealewis.com is dedicated to aging and end of life care using “hope through knowledge,” encouraging the dissemination of information to families and their loved ones. Also direct link to Hospice Radio, an international internet radio program on aging and end of life care. Some bilingual resources English and Spanish. No commericial bias and free downloads.