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2009 Grants - McKenzie
Cognitive Health and Perceived Needs Among Minority Older Adults
Sharon E. McKenzie, Ph.D.
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
Brooklyn, New York
2009 New Investigator Research Grant
African-American and Black Caribbean-American older adults continue to underutilize mental health services available in their community. When Alzheimer's disease is suspected they tend to wait until cognitive impairment is more severe and behavioral symptoms are typical of the middle to late stages of the disease process. For both groups, psychosis and mood disturbances are often present at the time of first diagnostic evaluation. Caribbean-Americans who assimilated to the lifestyle of American society tend to have the same disparities in health conditions as their African-American counterparts. Studies are warranted to further our understanding of the clinical and psychosocial needs of minority older adults affected by mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Sharon E. McKenzie, Ph.D. and colleagues will examine the perspectives, attitudes, values and cultural experiences of African- and Black Caribbean-Americans faced with Alzheimer's and MCI (caregivers , and the individuals for whom they provide care) and their reasons for underutilization of health services and research participation. The researchers will also study cultural and psychosocial variables (e.g. family dynamics, immigrant status and acculturation) related to MCI and Alzheimer's disease. The ultimate goal of this research is to enhance and test an educational intervention program—Health Promotion for Mind, Body and Spirit—aimed at promoting prevention, early detection and health behaviors associated with cognitive health, and the use of services in the community. The researchers will use focus groups to confirm and extend information on the barriers to seeking assistance and provide a basis for enhancing the health promotion intervention, which will increase participants' knowledge about MCI and Alzheimer's, as well as the importance of early service use.
The results will provide a basis for further research on interventions to enhance service utilization and reduce the impact of MCI and Alzheimer's in minority communities. The results will contribute to increasing the participation of minorities in Alzheimer research.