The pandemic has brought structural racism in health care to the surface, not just through COVID-19 infections, deaths and access to care, but also within perceptions.
“We were really, really, you know, shocked to see the influence of discrimination on the perception of discrimination and on people's receipt of care,” said Carl V. Hill, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Alzheimer's Association.
The annual Alzheimer’s Association report released Tuesday also included a look for the first time at experiences of communities of color and perspectives of the disease and dementia care.
They found two thirds of Black Americans believe it’s harder for them to get excellent care. Native Americans, Hispanic and Asian Americans have similar feelings.
“As people feel like they will be treated unfairly in a health care setting, they're less likely to go and seek care, right, and so we know that delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis is a huge factor for the disparities that we see,” said Hill.
Diverse communities also see bias in dementia research, and many don't trust a future cure would be equal.
“So, working with organizations that represent the well-being of, for example, African Americans and Latinos, so that we can create trust you know, so we can become trustworthy and provide resources as they relate to education and awareness, or care and support, to those communities,” said Hill.
The Alzheimer’s Association is also working to improve cultural competence and diversity within health care.
African Americans and Hispanics were found to be up to twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. More than 6 million seniors are living with the disease.