NIMHD UPDATES: New Research Spotlight: Study Sheds Light on Mental Health Disparities in Adults With Dementia
NIMHD-Funded Study Sheds Light on Mental Health Disparities in Adults With Dementia
Elderly Black man and woman sitting together looking at each other with concern.Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias that involve loss of mental clarity turn daily life tasks into challenges. African Americans and Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to experience dementia as they age. While depression and anxiety are often associated with dementia, African Americans and Hispanics with these mental health conditions are less likely than their White counterparts to be diagnosed and treated.
A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed that the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias was highest for African Americans, followed by that for Hispanics and then Whites. Self-reported experiences of serious depression and restlessness were also higher in the minority groups. Serious mental distress is both a potential complication and trigger of dementia. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether the dementia is causing the mental distress or vice-versa. However, better diagnosis and management of mental illness may help protect individuals from disease progression.