USA Today (July 13, 2010): Race, Culture May Play Role in Alzheimer's Disease

Publication Date: 
Tue, 07/13/2010

Racial and cultural differences may impact how early people with dementia are diagnosed, the type of care they receive and how long they live - and they even impact the way families of Alzheimer's patients deal with grief when their loved ones dies, according to several new studies.

Research presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Monday suggests more culturally-tailored resources could benefit African Americans, Latinos and other minority groups.

"These results have significant implications for caregiver burden and community resources," says Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer's Association's Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Relations. "Alzheimer's leads so many families through unfamiliar territory. The need for education, information, supportive services is paramount."

Kala Mehta, assistant professor in geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues examined the relationship between dementia and two factors:  Nursing home placement and mortality. The Health and Retirement Study followed more than 7,500 older people - 10% were African-American and 6% were Latino - over 10 years.

During the study, 34% of participants died and 49% experienced significant cognitive decline.