Improving Care for Populations Disproportionally Affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. Racial and Ethnic Minorities

03/01/2013

Racial and ethnic minority populations comprise approximately 37% of the United States population,3 and the proportion of older adults who belong to minority groups is rising sharply.4 Many older adults from minority groups have limited proficiency in English. Some racial and ethnic minorities are differentially affected by Alzheimer's disease. African-American and Hispanics are more likely than Whites to have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias; with African-Americans 2-3 times more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment, a difference that is more pronounced at younger ages.5 In addition, these populations suffer disproportionately from diabetes mellitus, stroke and other chronic illnesses complicating treatment. Thus understanding the role of co-morbidities is essential to early intervention, diagnosis and treatment. Rapid population increases, coupled with unmitigated health disparities' are cause for special attention, particularly because racial and ethnic minority populations are significantly underrepresented among health and behavioral health professionals and related research. This lack of attention to diversity has contributed to health care disparities in the availability of, access to, and the provision of quality cultural and linguistic appropriate care.

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