New tool gauges rural, older adults' knowledge of Alzheimer's disease

9 April 2019

Many older adults live in ethnically diverse rural settings where they face a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) but often delayed diagnosis of the condition due to health inequalities. Cultural perceptions in ageing may also add to these disparities.

Research targeting AD in rural populations to date has been limited, with many researchers not disclosing location of participants. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing have addressed the gap in the literature by developing a novel tool called the "Basic Knowledge of Alzheimer's Disease" (BKAD). The survey consists of 32 items used to measure and assess AD knowledge in rural and underserved communities. Findings were published in Aging & Mental Health.

Results showed that three quarters of participants knew that annual cognitive screening is recommended for older adults, but only one quarter had been previously screened. The vast majority (85%) stated that they would participate in annual memory screenings if offered, regardless of their education or health literacy level. Most also agreed that an earlier diagnosis of the condition improved the chances of being able to slow its progression. Findings also showed that over 75% of participants believed that staying socially, mentally and physically active is important.

“We must provide culturally effective Alzheimer's disease education to correct misconceptions, decrease stigma, and bring awareness to the need for routine cognitive screening in populations at risk,” said Lisa Kirk Wiese, senior author and an assistant professor in FAU's College of Nursing. “Determining these knowledge gaps in varied populations and settings is essential to designing effective educational and awareness programmes.”

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