A new special report by the Alzheimer’s Association, Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer’s in America examines perspectives and experiences of Native Americans and other minority populations in regard to care for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Minority racial and ethnic populations expect and experience more barriers when accessing dementia care, are less likely to trust medical research and have less confidence that health care providers will understand their ethnic and racial background and experiences compared to White respondents.
Results specific to American Indian and Alaska Native participants:
- Only 1/4th (25%) of Native Americans are concerned about developing Alzheimer’s – the lowest among all populations asked
- 65% of Native people report knowing someone who has Alzheimer’s or other dementias
- Though, 35% of Native Americans don’t believe they’ll live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia (the highest percentage of all races)
- 2 in 5 Native Americans (40%) believe their race makes it harder to get care for Alzheimer’s and dementia
- 40% of Native Americans believe that medical research is biased against people of color
- The majority of Native Americans (92%) think it’s important for health care providers to understand a person’s race/ethnic background, though less than half (47%) feel confident they have access to providers who understand their background and experiences
- 4 in 10 Native Americans (42%) have experienced health care discrimination, with the most frequently mentioned types of discrimination identified as providers acting as if they weren’t smart (43%) and they felt not listened to (31%)
- Most Native Americans (81%) are interested clinical research trials for Alzheimer’s disease
- The number one reason cited for not participating in clinical trials for Native Americans (51%) is they “don’t want to be a guinea pig”
- Most Native Americans (53%) believe significant loss of memory or cognitive abilities is “a normal part of aging”
- Native Americans are twice as likely as Whites to say they would not see a doctor if experiencing thinking or memory problems
- Few Native Americans (14%) say they would be insulted if a doctor suggested a cognitive assessment (memory test)
The report also takes a look at the major impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. There were at least 42,000 more deaths from Alzheimer’s and other dementias reported in 2020 compared the previous five years.