American Indian and Alaska Native people are more likely than White people to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other types of worsening memory problems that make it harder to get through the day.
– 1 in 9 people 65 and older in the US will develop dementia
– 3 in 9 American Indian and Alaska Native people 65 and older will develop dementia
Unfortunately, American Indian and Alaska Native people both expect and experience more barriers when accessing care for dementia. They are also less likely to trust medical research and have less confidence that health care providers will understand their ethnic and racial background and experiences compared to White Americans, according to a 2021 report.
Memory problems don’t just affect elders.
– 1 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native people 45 and older report memory problems that have gotten worse over the past year
Talk to your doctor.
Big changes in memory, thinking or ability that make it hard to get through the day are not a normal part of aging. Talk to your doctor today about any signs or symptoms you or an elder may be having.
Take steps now to reduce risk.
Some activities that promote resilience, re-build connections to our communities and cultures, and reduce risk for dementia include*:
- Health Promotion: Increasing traditional physical activity like dance, preparing and harvesting traditional foods and medicines, and maintaining overall healthy living practices
- Cultural Practices: Increasing knowledge and sharing of tribal history and cultural practices
- Social and Emotional Well-being: Increasing the sense of belonging to one’s tribe, and the sense of connection to culture through beading, artwork, practicing song, and inter-generational interactions
These same strategies can also help people living with dementia to live well.
More facts and figures.
– Only 1/4th (25%) of Native Americans are concerned about developing Alzheimer’s – the lowest among all populations asked
– 65% of Native people report knowing someone who has Alzheimer’s or other dementias
– Though, 35% of Native Americans don’t believe they’ll live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia (the highest percentage of all races)
– 2 in 5 Native Americans (40%) believe their race makes it harder to get care for Alzheimer’s and dementia
– 40% of Native Americans believe that medical research is biased against people of color
– The majority of Native Americans (92%) think it’s important for health care providers to understand a person’s race/ethnic background, though less than half (47%) feel confident they have access to providers who understand their background and experiences
– 4 in 10 Native Americans (42%) have experienced health care discrimination, with the most frequently mentioned types of discrimination identified as providers acting as if they weren’t smart (43%) and they felt not listened to (31%)
– Most Native Americans (81%) are interested clinical research trials for Alzheimer’s disease
– The number one reason cited for not participating in clinical trials for Native Americans (51%) is they “don’t want to be a guinea pig”
– Most Native Americans (53%) believe significant loss of memory or cognitive abilities is “a normal part of aging”
– Native Americans are twice as likely as Whites to say they would not see a doctor if experiencing thinking or memory problems
– Few Native Americans (14%) say they would be insulted if a doctor suggested a cognitive assessment (memory test)
Click to read more from a special report.
*Adapted from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthytribes/tribalpractices.htm