A team of Alzheimer’s Disease experts from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health will be in Green Bay this month to hold an educational and screening event on Alzheimer’s Disease for Native Americans of the Oneida Nation.

Recent research suggests that Native Americans are the group at the greatest risk for early-onset dementia (before age 65) and second only to African Americans for late onset (after age 65) but more studies and data are needed for a complete picture of how Alzheimer’s disease affects this underrepresented population.

At the request from the Oneida Nation Commission on Aging (ONCOA), a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, researchers and Alzheimer’s experts from UW health will give an educational presentation about Alzheimer’s disease dementia on Tuesday, April 10 from 5-6 p.m. at the Congregate Meal site on the Oneida Reservation, 2901 S. Overland Road. They will discuss warning signs, symptoms and caregiver options.

After the community meeting, Oneida Nation members will have a chance to sign up for a free screening at the Elder Services Center, 2907 S. Overland Road, the following Tuesday, April 17 from 1-4 p.m. Individuals can sign up for themselves or a family member about whom they are concerned. After the screening, resources for caregivers and other services will be made available.

“This is an example of the Wisconsin Idea in action; this is the second time we have gone up to the Oneida Nation. We had a lot of success when we held the same events two years ago and we are hoping for continued interest,” said Carey Gleason, PhD, professor of medicine (geriatrics) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and co- minority recruitment leader with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

There is little to no data on how Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias affect Native Americans, but recent data suggest that an elevated risk for this ethnic group. We hope to bring more awareness of the illness, so that no family has to care for an affected elder without resources or information. We also hope to include this community in research studies, so that treatment and prevention strategies are equally effective for all populations, especially those groups most affected by the disease.”

The Oneida Nation Commission on Aging (ONCOA) sees this as a priority and has led efforts to bring information to their community. “We see this as important topic and want to empower our community so that elders with Alzheimer’s disease dementia receive the best possible care and support,” said Patricia Lassila, ONOCA Chairwoman. “The Oneida Nation and ONCOA hope to lead the way in de-stigmatizing this illness.”

The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin represents a branch of the Iroquois tribes originally from New York state. The first Oneidas arrived in Wisconsin in the 1820s after negotiating with local tribes for land. The Oneida Reservation was officially established in 1838, prompting another wave of migration to territory that would later become Wisconsin. Located in Brown and Outagamie counties in northeast Wisconsin the Oneida Nation reservation is home to approximately 4,500 tribal members. Overall, there are nearly 17,000 Oneida Nation of Wisconsin tribal members.