By JoAnn Weaver
Experiences of structural, interpersonal, and institutional racism are associated with lower memory scores and worse cognition in midlife and old age, especially among Black individuals, according to studies reported at a recent Alzheimer’s Association conference.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, Black people are about twice as likely and Hispanic/Latinos are about one and one-half times as likely as whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
“In order to achieve health equity — as a step toward complete inclusion — individuals and society must identify and reduce racism and other forms of discrimination,” said Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., MPH, chief diversity, equity and inclusion, officer at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“We must create a society in which the underserved, disproportionately affected and underrepresented are safe, cared for and valued.”
In a study of nearly 1,000 middle-aged community-dwelling adults (55% Latinx; 23% Black; 19% White), exposure to interpersonal and institutional racism was associated with lower memory scores, and these associations were driven by Black individuals. Experiences of structural racism were associated with lower episodic memory among all racial and ethnic groups that were included in the study.