Experts call new data on Alzheimer’s, connection with race and ethnicity “jarring”


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Eastern North Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is changing how they address the needs of impacted communities. This, as the group, releases new statistics based on race and ethnicity when it comes to the disease.

They’re calling the numbers jarring. The specialist 9 On your Side spoke with says even though she was in shock, the data is showing the organization the importance of incorporating more diversity and inclusion when it comes to their services.

Findings in the report, reveal that non-white populations expect and experience more barriers, have less trust in medical research, and are less confident that they have access to health professionals who understand their experiences when accessing dementia care.

“But the impact that it has is that it affects the families, the caregivers, the community. It is the most expensive disease. The racial inequities of course trouble all of us” said Lisa Roberts, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Eastern North Carolina Chapter.

  • Two-thirds of Black Americans (66%) believe it is harder for them to get excellent care for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Likewise, 2 in 5 Native Americans (40%) and Hispanic Americans (39%) believe their own race or ethnicity makes it harder to get care, as do one-third of Asian Americans (34%).
  • Nearly two-thirds of Black Americans (62%) believe that medical research is biased against people of color — a view shared by substantial numbers of Asian Americans (45%), Native Americans (40%), and Hispanic Americans (36%) as well. Only half of Black Americans (53%) trust a future cure for Alzheimer’s will be shared equally regardless of race, color, or ethnicity.
  • Fewer than half of Black (48%) and Native Americans (47%) feel confident they have access to providers who understand their ethnic or racial background and experiences, and only about 3 in 5 Asian Americans (63%) and Hispanics (59%) likewise feel confident.
  • Episodes of discrimination, however, extend beyond Alzheimer’s and dementia care, the Alzheimer’s Association surveys found that many non-White Americans say they have experienced discrimination in the broader health care system. Specifically, half of Black Americans (50%) report they’ve experienced discrimination when seeking health care; more than 4 in 10 Native Americans (42%) and one-third of Asian Americans (34%) and Hispanic Americans (33%) likewise report having experienced health care discrimination.

“We need to continue to push the initiatives that are going to help us widen the tent. So those diverse communities not only have access, but they feel welcomed, and they feel heard when they come to us for our care and support services,” said Roberts.

  • Number of North Carolina residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s: 180,000
  • Estimated number of North Carolina residents living with Alzheimer’s in 2025: 210,000
  • Percentage change: 16.7 % increase
  • Statewide deaths from Alzheimer’s disease (2019): 4,508
  • Number of North Carolina residents serving as unpaid family caregivers: 358,000
  • Total hours of unpaid care provided: 517 million
  • The total value of unpaid care: $7.3 billion

To address these statistics the Eastern North Carolina chapter of the association is starting to partner with more community groups that are closely tied to communities of color like, churches, and organizations like the Prince Hall Masons and the National Hispanic Council on Aging.

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