Older adults' concerns about cognitive health: Commonalities and differences among six United States ethnic groups

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2011-10-01

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Abstract

We studied concerns about cognitive health among ethnically diverse groups of older adults. The study was grounded in theories of health behaviour and the representation of health and illness. We conducted 42 focus groups (N=396, ages 50+) in four languages, with African Americans, American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos, Whites other than Latinos (hereafter, Whites) and Vietnamese Americans, in nine United States locations. Participants discussed concerns about keeping their memory or ability to think as they age. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim. Constant comparison methods identified themes. In findings, all ethnic groups expressed concern and fear about memory loss, losing independence, and becoming a burden. Knowing someone with Alzheimer's disease increased concern. American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos and Vietnamese Americans expected memory loss. American Indians, Chinese Americans and Vietnamese Americans were concerned about stigma associated with Alzheimer's disease. Only African Americans, Chinese and Whites expressed concern about genetic risks. Only African Americans and Whites expressed concern about behaviour changes. Although we asked participants for their thoughts about their ability to think as they age, they focused almost exclusively on memory. This suggests that health education promoting cognitive health should focus on memory, but should also educate the public about the importance of maintaining all aspects of cognitive health. © 2010 Cambridge University Press.

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10.1017/S0144686X10001273

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Laditka, JN, SB Laditka, R Liu, AE Price, B Wu, DB Friedman, SJ Corwin, JR Sharkey, et al. (2011). Older adults' concerns about cognitive health: Commonalities and differences among six United States ethnic groups. Ageing and Society, 31(7). pp. 1202–1228. 10.1017/S0144686X10001273 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5979.

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Wu

Bei Wu

Consulting Professor in the School of Nursing

Bei Wu, PhD, is Pauline Gratz Professor of Nursing, Director for International Research at the School of Nursing, and a member of the Global Health Institute. She is also a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Dr. Wu’s areas of research expertise include aging and global health.

Dr. Wu received her M.S. and Ph.D. in gerontology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). She is an internationally known expert on China’s long-term care policy and system development. She has worked closely with several schools of public health and schools of nursing in China on educational and research initiatives, such as conducting joint research projects, providing lectures, making presentations, and organizing professional conferences/training workshops. As the Principal Investigator, Dr. Wu has led many National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded projects on aging and health related issues including long-term care, dementia, caregiving, oral health, and health services utilization. She is also the Methods Core Director for the recently NIH-funded center on Adaptive Leadership in Symptom Science.


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