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New report from Alzheimer’s Association discusses racial barriers to health care

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 10:28 PM CST
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - In Iowa, more than 65,000 people over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s. A new report from the Alzheimer’s Association details racial and ethnic attitudes on Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

Aaron Morgan, from Waterloo, knows personally how difficult it can be when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He helped care of his mother, Annie Morgan, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, for three years before she died in 2019. “She was doing pretty good for a while, but unfortunately the disease kicks back in further... She would stop breathing and then start again. Stop breathing and start again,” says Morgan. He says he feels grateful to have been able to get his mother into a memory care center that really helped.

But the new report from the Alzheimer’s Association shows race and ethnicity can be barriers to getting health care. The report says older people who are Black or of Latino heritage are more likely to have Alzheimer’s than White older people, and are also less likely to be diagnosed.

“We’ve noticed one pattern that if people believe that the providers don’t have the knowledge about their background and ethnicity and their cultures, their experiences, they just cannot connect with them very well.” says Dr. Niyati Sharma, who is on the Alzheimer’s Association Iowa Chapter Board of Directors.

The report states 66% of Black Americans believe it’s harder for them to get excellent care for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. And almost as many - 62% - believe medical research is biased against people of color.

Dr. Sharma say’s it’s important to increase diversity in clinical trials, saying ”If they’re not participating in the studies it’s hard to understand completely how the racial and ethnic differences will affect the efficacy and safety of the potential new medications.” She says it’s equally as important to increase diversity among health care providers.

The full report can be found here.

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