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Filling in the Alzheimer's 'Race Gap'
Date:4/20/2008

Black and Hispanics often labor under misconceptions about the disease, researchers discover

SUNDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is wrenching, especially for family members of the patient.

But certain races and ethnic groups, including Hispanics and blacks, are more likely to labor under misconceptions about the disease, often wrongly viewing it as a normal part of aging, researchers are learning.

And that often leads to delays in seeking care, when early treatment might make a difference in the progression of the mind-wasting disorder.

In a recent survey conducted for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, researchers found that Hispanic and black caregivers were more likely to believe that the symptoms of Alzheimer's weren't a disease but just part of growing old. Thirty-seven percent of black caregivers and 33 percent of Hispanic ones thought that was the case, compared to 23 percent of caregivers from other racial or ethnic groups.

Black and Hispanic caregivers were also more likely to say they did not know much about the disease.

The results of the survey highlight the need for more education about the disease, so all Americans can be given the chance to get appropriate treatment, experts said.

Eric Hall, founding chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, called the survey results "distressing," adding, "Lack of an early diagnosis leaves families at a point of chaos and crisis, wondering, 'How do I care for my loved one?' "

"In the absence of a cure, care becomes a critical issue to sustain the highest quality of life for the longest time," Hall said.

The impact of Alzheimer's affects different groups of people differently in many ways, explained Angela Geiger, vice president of constituent relations for the Alzheimer's Association. For instance, she said, the disease is more prevalent among blacks th
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