Alzheimer’s Caregiving Study Advances Across Diverse Contexts

The Gerontological Society of America

A new supplemental issue to The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences features papers resulting from a gathering of experts that emphasized racial/ethnic and contextual factors in the study of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) care using a team science approach.

According to this journal issue, titled “ADRD Care in Context,” recent estimates indicate that 6.5 million people in the U.S. live with ADRD, and more than 11 million Americans care for people with these conditions, providing 16 billion hours (valued at $271 billion) of unpaid assistance annually. Further, older adults from minoritized racial and ethnic groups exhibit greater prevalence and incidence of ADRD than the non-Hispanic white population, and the experience of ADRD care varies with cultural context because of differences in values, social support, and coping styles.

Kristine J. Ajrouch, PhD, FGSA, Noah J. Webster, PhD, FGSA, Laura B. Zahodne, PhD, and Toni C. Antonucci, PhD, FGSA, served as guest editors. In their opening article, they wrote that though ADRD caregiving is common regardless of race or ethnicity, the role of cultural complexity in ADRD care has been recognized yet often neglected in research and service provision.

“Focusing on caregiving among different racial/ethnic groups provides unique opportunities to examine relevant within-group factors and to emphasize the advantages of precise indicators such as geographic region, language, educational factors, and acculturation,” the guest editors state. “ADRD caregiving research has the potential to expand knowledge when diverse samples are included and culturally relevant conceptual models and theoretical perspectives are privileged.”

This supplemental issue was supported by Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease (MCCFAD), funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. The articles are the result of MCCFAD’s second annual Summer Data Immersion program held in June 2021, which virtually convened 42 researchers from over 35 universities. During the program, data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study and its linked National Study of Caregiving were used to investigate multiple ADRD care topics, including immigrant contexts; end-of-life caregiving; multiple caregivers; spousal caregiving; geographic contexts; interactions with the medical system; costs of ADRD caregiving; COVID-19; and paid care in the contexts of community and long-term care environments.

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