NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Tens of thousands of Filipino families call Hampton Roads home.

They are quick to share their food and culture with neighbors, but rarely their struggles.

“It really is rooted in our Filipino pride and we’re always feeling like we’re in control and not feeling like we need help,” said Dr. Cynthia Romero, Director of the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at EVMS.

She and Dr. Marissa Galicia-Castillo along with the Alzheimer’s Association, are hosting a first-of-its-kind Alzheimer’s and dementia education program for the Filipino community in Hampton Roads.

Dr. Galicia-Castillo tells WAVY that there is a difference between forgetfulness and early-onset Alzheimer’s.

“Making sure people understand that dementia is not a normal part of aging,” said Dr. Galicia-Castillo. “If it’s accepted as normal then nobody looks for help… because that’s normal.”

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates Alzheimer’s cases will grow from about 6 million in 2022 to more than 12 million by the year 2050 costing families billions of dollars not to mention the emotional and physical cost of caretaking.

“There are a lot of individuals who may be fearful of it because they don’t understand what’s happening there may be a sense of feeling overwhelmed especially for the caregivers,” Dr. Romero said.

The discussion Wednesday, Dec. 7 will take place at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. It’s intended to help families, healthcare providers and employers understand risk factors, warning signs and how they can join the fight against the disease.

“We can really make life better for you and the community,” said Romero.

If you would like to participate in the discussion, you can sign up here.