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2024 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Evidence-Based Speech-Language Intervention in Latinxs of Mexican Origin

Can a language-based screening tool be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s in older Mexican-Americans?

Stephanie Grasso, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX - United States


According to the 2024 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures Report, older Hispanic/Latino American adults are about one and one-half times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementia as older White Americans. Additionally, the larger Hispanic/Latino American community is a very diverse group of individuals with different cultural histories and health profiles. 

Optimizing health outcomes for the U.S. population requires eliminating disparities within the healthcare system, including disparities that exist within diagnosing Alzheimer’s. Recent studies have found that subtle changes in speech patterns, such as the rate of one’s speech or length of pauses between words, may be indicative of the early brain changes observed in Alzheimer’s that are not easily detectable in clinical settings. Dr. Stephanie Grasso and colleagues propose a study to develop culturally appropriate online training to improve speech impairment in older Mexican-American adults with Alzheimer’s. 

Research Plan

For their study, Dr. Grasso and the team will recruit 24 individuals with Alzheimer’s-associated speech impairment who also identify as either Mexican-American or Mexican. They will administer the online speech training to participants twice a week over a six-week period. Following completion of the speech training program, the researchers will assess participants’ and caregivers’ satisfaction with the program. They will administer speech assessments to examine the program’s impact on participants’ speech impairment and administer questionnaires to measure the quality of life benefits of the program.


The results of this study may provide key insight into the language changes that occur during Alzheimer’s progression. The findings may also lead to a new non-invasive, low-cost intervention for speech impairment in older Mexican-American adults with Alzheimer’s.

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