Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can provide unique challenges for patients and caregivers alike underrepresented and underserved communities. In fact, Black Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than White, non-Hispanic individuals according to the Alzheimer Association.
Among organizations focused on Alzheimer’s research and support, in 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted funding to Washington University in St. Louis to begin conducting research that focuses on the relationship between Alzheimer’s and the Black population, as well as to begin to develop a registry of patients to aid in further studies. These efforts will hopefully go a long way toward closing the gap.
Alzheimer’s by the numbers
The Alzheimer’s Association’s Facts and Figures report from 2021 has shed light on the inequities that exist and that there is much work to be done with regard to research, treatment and care for those who are diagnosed, or likely to be diagnosed, with the disease. The report highlights:
- 36% of Black Americans, 18% of Hispanic Americans, and 19% of Asian Americans reported that they believe discrimination would be a barrier to them receiving adequate and equitable care for dementia.
- Fewer than half (48%) of Black Americans, and 47% of Native Americans believe that their providers would be sensitive to their cultural, racial and ethnic needs during treatment and care. In contrast, approximately 60% of Asian and Hispanic Americans reported they feel confident their needs would be met.
- Nearly half of all non-White caregivers and patients report that they have been subjected to discrimination while caring for a loved one or seeking treatment.
A path forward to equitable and inclusive Alzheimer’s care
It’s not enough to simply recognize that disparities in diagnosis and care for Alzheimer’s patients exists, it’s crucial that efforts continue to improve outcomes for all populations and communities. In addition to the disparities and proposed solutions in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Facts and Figures report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), also recommends:
- Providing cultural competency and implicit bias training to the healthcare workforce.
- Increasing diversity among providers and physicians so that the workforce diversity matches that of its patients.
- Engaging, recruiting, and retaining diverse populations in research studies and clinical trials to build representation and trust in underrepresented communities.
The Alzheimer’s Association has also developed a draft version of an Inclusive Language Guide for providers to reference when caring for diverse populations and interacting with their caregivers.
You are not alone
While discrimination in diagnosis and treatment are very real concerns, it’s important to know that there are many working tirelessly to improve outcomes. Let’s look at some of the partners who are working on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers:
- The Alzheimer’s Association works on behalf of patients and their loved ones to improve diagnosis, care and research to accelerate a possible cure.
- The NIH has created the Accelerating Medicines Partnership for Alzheimer’s Disease which is a government, industry and non-profit partnership focused on developing new diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer’s.
- Corporate supporters, including Bankers Life with their Forget Me Not Days® annual fundraising campaign, seek to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Association through meaningful partnerships.
Bankers Life is here for you!
Navigating a dementia diagnosis is challenging for patients and their caregivers. Concerns about finances, care plans and long term needs are but a few of the difficult aspects of the disease.
If you, or someone you love, are concerned about the impact a dementia diagnosis may have, consider speaking to a Bankers Life agent to learn about potential financial options. We can answer questions and review your retirement plans. Call us to get started (844) 553-9083.