Kaiser Health Disparities Report: A Weekly Look At Race, Ethnicity And Health

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Culture-Based Care | Black, Hispanic Caregivers More Likely To Misinterpret Signs of Alzheimer’s, Survey Finds
[Apr 24, 2008]
Hispanic and black caregivers are more likely than other ethnic groups to misinterpret symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as normal signs of aging, according to a recent survey by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, HealthDay/Washington Post reports. The survey found that 37% of black caregivers and 33% of Hispanic caregivers believed that the disease’s symptoms were a normal part of aging, compared with 23% of caregivers from other racial or ethnic groups. The survey also found that black and Hispanic caregivers were more likely to report that they knew little about Alzheimer’s.

Misinterpretation of the disease’s symptoms “often leads to delays in seeking care, when early treatment might make a difference in the progression” of the condition, HealthDay/Post reports. Experts said the survey’s findings indicate a need for more culturally competent education on Alzheimer’s disease. Eric Hall, founding CEO of AFA, called the findings “distressing,” adding, “In the absence of a cure, care becomes a critical issue to sustain the highest quality of life for the longest time.”

According to Angela Geiger, vice president of constituent relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s has different effects in different racial and ethnic groups. For example, the disease is more prevalent in blacks than whites, and Hispanics are more likely to display symptoms earlier. Such differences prompted the organization to create “a series of culturally appropriate publications tailored” to blacks and Hispanics, she said (Doheny, HealthDay/Washington Post, 4/20).

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