Improving Recognition of Cognitive Decline and Racial Disparities in Underserved Communities: Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS

The director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain detailed the efforts being made to support individuals in underrepresented communities and raise awareness for cognitive decline. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"There’s potentially a number of ways in which we can intervene, even without medications. Because generally, at early stages, we don’t treat anybody with medicines that are available for dementia, but we try to encourage people to go into healthy lifestyles."

As the general population continues to age, the need for tools that detect cognitive decline become more critical. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.5 million Americans older than 65 years are living with Alzheimer disease (AD); however, not all races are equally affected. In fact, Black Americans are twice as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to develop AD, and Latinos are 1.5 times as likely.

Although the rate of AD and other dementias in African Americans and Hispanics is higher than in Whites, these racial groups are less likely to have a diagnosis of the condition. When they are diagnosed African Americans and Hispanics are typically diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, when they are more cognitively and physically impaired, and therefore, in need of more medical care. While drug development has been a main priority in the AD field, tools such as the 5-Cog assessment can have significant impacts on those currently living in underserved, diverse communities.

Created by those at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System, the tool involves a picture-based memory-impairment screening tests, a short picture-based symbol match, and confirmation that a patient has cognitive complaints and problems with mobility. Recently, the National Institutes of Health awarded an $11 million grant to evaluate the screening approach, which was built for those in racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS, principal investigator on the grant, sat down with NeurologyLive® to discuss efforts to lower rates of AD in these communities, the improved awareness for cognitive decline, and how this population differs from the general public.

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