Healthy aging and preserving community memories

The Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center in partnership with the Center for Healthy Communities is launching a first-of-its kind study around brain health intervention. The innovative program aims to boost cognitive health within the African-American community in Portland.

The Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery (SHARP) study asks African Americans who are 55 or older to engage in community memory building while walking through historically black neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland.

swimming dive copyParticipants will view images of the African-American community in Portland from the 1940’s to 2000’s, and then engage in conversation about what it was like to live and work in those communities.

By promoting both individual memory health and community memory, the study will explore the role that community memory plays in individual health.

The study’s long-term goal is to maintain and increase cognitive health of participants through a multi-layered approach, including physical activity (walking at a comfortable/moderate pace), socializing, conversational remembrance and health education.Billy Webb Elks Club copy

The study investigators chose to target the African American community with healthy aging interventions because data point to disparities in prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias among African Americans compared to white Americans.

African Americans face special challenges in maintaining brain health with higher rates of chronic diseases, like hypertension and diabetes, that are risk factors for cognitive health.

Most notably, qualitative data have shown African Americans have a lower perceived risk of Alzheimer’s disease despite their elevated risk.

If you would like to contribute your family images to the SHARP program, contact Raina Croff at or 503-494-2367.

Read more in The Skanner.


Raina Croff


Raina Croff, Ph.D. is the Senior Research Associate for the Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.




The SHARP project is sponsored by the CDC-funded Prevention Research Center, the Center for Healthy Communities at Oregon Health & Science University Cooperative Agreement number U48DP005006.