A study investigating care for Alzheimer’s disease finds African-American and Hispanic caregivers are significantly more likely than caregivers of other races to consider the disease a normal part of the aging process and dismiss its symptoms as part of getting older.
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) this gap in understanding sheds light on the reasons for delay in diagnosis and treatment, which is an unnecessary setback for caregivers and individuals with the disease alike.
“Facing Alzheimer’s disease is never easy, but getting a diagnosis and taking advantage of support services are crucial steps to treating and managing the disease,” said Eric J. Hall, Chief Executive Officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “We encourage everyone touched by Alzheimer’s disease to reach out for assistance – help is out there.”
According to the survey, African-American and Hispanic caregivers surveyed were significantly more likely (37 percent versus 33 percent) than caregivers of other races (23 percent) to believe that Alzheimer’s disease is a normal part of the aging process.
In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative illness. Compounding the problem, African-American (70 percent) and Hispanic (67 percent) caregivers were also significantly more likely to dismiss the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as old age than other respondents of other races (53 percent).
Additionally, African-American (67 percent) and Hispanic (63 percent) caregivers were significantly more likely to report that they did not know enough about the disease to recognize the symptoms compared to caregivers of other races (49 percent).
The survey also found that African-American (33 percent) and Hispanic (26 percent) caregivers were also more likely than caregivers of other races (12 percent) to recognize that they are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that is by no means a normal part of aging,” explained Warachal E. Faison, M.D., Assistant Director of the Institute for Research Minority Training on Mental Health and Aging, and Clinical Director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Clinical Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina.
“My deep concern is that caregivers who consider the disease normal and don’t know how to recognize its symptoms are not going to be able to make the best healthcare decisions for their loved ones with the disease and themselves as caregivers. The fact is, it’s crucial for caregivers to be able to identify symptoms and bring their loved one to a doctor without delay for proper diagnosis and treatment.”
Source: Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.