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[AT A LOSS] US minorities experience cognitive decline sooner

Blacks and Hispanics are more vulnerable to memory loss, confusion and their consequences earlier in life, according to a study published in the journal BMC Public Health. Sangeeta Gupta, MD, a professor in the departments of public and allied health sciences at Delaware State University, investigated levels of subjective cognitive decline in US adults over age 45.

Subjective cognitive decline is the experience of frequent confusion and memory loss, which has been identified as a potential early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Active-aging organizations should be aware of these disparities and how they might affect both residents and staff.

Dr. Gupta analyzed data on close to 180,000 US adults ages 45 and over, collected as part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey from 2015 to 2018. Participants answered six questions designed to self-assess memory loss and cognitive ability.

Overall, 10.8% self-reported subjective cognitive decline; 10.7% were White, 12.3% were Black and 9.9% were Hispanic.

Black and Hispanic individuals with subjective cognitive decline were more likely to be younger (45-54 years) compared to White individuals (most of whom were 65 or over). In the Black and Hispanic groups, those with subjective cognitive decline were more likely to be less educated, to have a lower income and to have functioning difficulties – e.g., struggling to complete household chores.

Less than half of those who were Black (46.8%) or Hispanic (44.5%) had discussed their issues with a healthcare provider, but this did not significantly differ from the percentage of those who were White. This is an issue organizations should also be aware of, as it may result in hidden impairments.

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