“Did you know that people of
color are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease? Let’s learn why. Let’s talk
The statement is one of the
key messages that came out of a community outreach initiative sponsored by the
Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center (RMADC) called Boot Camp Translation,
or BCT. Fifteen African American women from around metro Denver volunteered to
learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias so they could inspire
and encourage their neighbors and friends to become better informed about the
“These women are strong
advocates for health and for their communities. This process further empowers
them to educate and help their communities,” said neuropsychologist Luis
Medina, PhD, who led the BCT along with Rebecca Mullen, MD, a family medicine
Why call it Boot Camp Translation?
The BCT model originated in
the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of
Medicine and was effective in rural Colorado communities for education on
conditions such as diabetes, asthma and colon cancer. The name comes from concentrating
so intently on a subject that a participant might feel like it is military
basic training – “boot camp”– and then reframing the medical references to
common language – “translation.” Participants in a BCT are encouraged to lead
and teach about the health issue in their communities, supported by the information
learned in BCT sessions.
The BCT was organized to
encourage more people of color to see a doctor when showing signs of dementing diseases.
African Americans over age 65 are two times more likely to get Alzheimer’s
disease relative to Caucasians, but statistically, they are less likely to see
a physician or participate in research studies. Researchers want more ethnically
and racially diverse volunteers for dementia studies and trials, especially for
new drug therapies, because a lack of diversity in a study population could
This was the first time BCT
was employed for Alzheimer’s disease. RMADC neurologists Samantha Holden, MD,
and Peter Pressman, MD, provided the dementia education. Participants met both
in person and by conference calls over a five-month period.
Check Your M.O.O.D.
Throughout the course, the
participants developed key messages to share with their community, then an
action plan outlining various media outlets to share the messages. They
brainstormed locations where participants felt they would have the greatest
impact, including faith, community and health care locations. One message
invented a new acronym, MOOD (memory, organization, oration, decisions),
representing daily functions where symptoms of dementia might appear. The
slogan was printed on a flyer with a picture of an older African American.
“Life brings about changes; check your MOOD,” it reads.
A thousand flyers were
distributed to regional churches at a convention of Baptist church ushers, and
another thousand were given to the participants to share with their
The participants were both
enthusiastic and grateful for the BCT opportunity. One said her experience
“broadened my knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, most especially the need and
avenues to educate my community about the disease and related health.”
Another wrote, “I want to
thank you for your hard work and time you and your team invested in the Boot Camp.
It has been a blessing to me.”
Fourteen members of the group are
maintaining an ongoing relationship with RMADC as part of a Community Advisory