Alzheimer’s Association, Others Seek To Address Minorities’ Misconceptions About Condition
The Alzheimer's Association is increasing outreach efforts to address cultural barriers and common misconceptions about the disease among minorities, the Boston Globe reports. The association has developed an educational campaign that disseminates materials about Alzheimer's care for minorities in both English and Spanish to media, health care workers and patients. The effort is in response to concern that blacks and Hispanics have a higher risk of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia because they have cardiovascular disease or diabetes and that many are reaching the age at which dementia typically is beginning to form, according to the Globe. Studies have shown disparities between whites and minorities in prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's and dementia. Researchers are trying to determine causes behind the disparities and so far have ruled out genetics and higher rates of cardiovascular disease among blacks and diabetes among Hispanics. Cultural beliefs or misconceptions about Alzheimer's and dementia also contribute to the issue, and there might be some cultural bias in the testing methods for diagnosing Alzheimer's, Yaakov Stern, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University Medical Center, said. He added that some memory tests use material that is unfamiliar to immigrants and that cognitive tests might not account for limited education among some blacks as a result of segregation. "The real issue is the norms that we have for these tests and the issue of cultural fairness," he said (Dembner, Boston Globe, 7/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.