We shine a spotlight on three researchers, funded by Alzheimer’s Society, who are furthering our understanding of how different ethnic groups and communities are affected by dementia.
Dementia doesn’t discriminate, it can affect everyone. To reflect this, it’s vital that dementia research studies include people affected by dementia from different ethnic communities.
We know that often research participants involved in studies are more likely to be white. The majority of dementia research worldwide has been carried out in European populations.
We are learning more and more about dementia every day. However it’s essential that we continue to champion research that focuses on how different communities experience dementia.
Three key facts about dementia for Black African and Black Caribbean people in the UK
- Black African and Black Caribbean people are more likely to develop dementia and at younger ages than white people.
- Black African and Black Caribbean people tend to access dementia services much later on when they are in crisis or no longer able to cope alone.
- Black African and Black Caribbean people are also less likely to receive drug treatments, to take part in dementia research studies or move into a care home.
Dementia services to meet everyone’s needs
Everyone has a right to the very best dementia care and support. It’s vital that dementia services become as accessible as possible.
We are funding PhD student Moïse Roche to understand how dementia affects the Black African and Black Caribbean community. This research project will be used to make dementia care services more accessible for Black African and Black Caribbean families affected by dementia.
Another PhD student Saba Shafiq, funded by Alzheimer’s Society, is addressing how to make dementia support more accessible from a different angle.
Previous research studies have highlighted how dementia may be seen as a natural part of aging in certain ethnic communities. Or that care for a person living with dementia is the responsibility of family and not of care services.
Several barriers can stop people from accessing the support they need. These can range from not knowing what is available to the stigma around using dementia services. The fact that many services are only offered in English can often be another barrier.
'My study involves detailed interviews with families from Eastern and Central Europe, the Caribbean and Ireland to gather their first-hand experiences.'
It will use the experiences of families to understand how different ethnic communities experience and cope with living with dementia.
This research will help break down the barriers that might stop families from accessing dementia support services when they need them most.
Exploring dementia in the South Asian community
Reducing our risk of dementia has been a prominent topic in the media recently, following the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention and care, which reported that up to 40 per cent of dementia cases may be preventable.
However there’s still a lot more for us to learn. Research has shown that the factors which affect our risk of developing dementia can vary between ethnic groups. It’s vital that we understand how dementia risk varies and why.
We’re funding Dr Naaheed Mukadam to explore dementia risk in South Asian communities. Her research will look at the effects of different risk factors, from high blood pressure to genetics. She aims to understand what increases dementia risk for South Asian families.
Dr Mukadam's research will tell us a lot more about dementia as a whole. It will also ensure that advice for South Asian families on reducing the risk of dementia is as accurate as possible.
Dementia can affect anyone
It’s essential that researchers understand the different ways in which the condition touches people’s lives. We can only achieve that by ensuring that dementia research includes people from all walks of life and communities.
Join dementia research
If you’d like to take part in life changing dementia research, register with Join Dementia Research. It is an online platform that matches people interested in research to studies they may be able to take part in.