How do older people describe others with cognitive impairment? A multiethnic study in the United States

Sarah B. Laditka, James N. Laditka, Rui Liu, Anna E. Price, Daniela B. Friedman, Bei Wu, Lucinda L. Bryant, Sara J. Corwin, Susan L. Ivey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We studied how older people describe others with cognitive impairment. Forty-two focus groups represented African Americans, American Indians, Chinese Americans, Latinos, Vietnamese Americans, and Whites other than Latinos (Whites) (N=396, ages 50+), in nine locations in the United States of America. Axial coding connected categories and identified themes. The constant comparison method compared themes across ethnic groups. African Americans, American Indians and Whites emphasised memory loss. African Americans, American Indians, Latinos and Whites stressed withdrawal, isolation and repetitive speech. African Americans, American Indians, Vietnamese Americans and Whites emphasised 'slow thinking'. Only Whites described mood swings and personality changes. Many participants attributed dementia to stress. Terms describing others with dementia included 'Alzheimer's', 'dementia', 'senile' and 'crazy'. Euphemisms were common ('senior moment', 'old timer's disease'). Responses focused on memory, with limited mention of other cognitive functions. Differences among ethnic groups in descriptions of cognitive health and cognitive impairment underscore the need to tailor public health messages about cognitive health to ways that people construe its loss, and to their interest in maintaining it, so that messages and terms used are familiar, understandable and relevant to the groups for which they are designed. Health promotion efforts should develop ethnically sensitive ways to address the widely held misperception that even serious cognitive impairment is a normal characteristic of ageing and also to address stigma associated with cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-392
Number of pages24
JournalAgeing and Society
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Fingerprint

American Indian
North American Indians
dementia
African Americans
Asian Americans
Hispanic Americans
ethnic group
personality change
Ethnic Groups
Dementia
health
withdrawal
mood
health promotion
social isolation
coding
Group
public health
Memory Disorders
Health

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • brain health
  • cognition
  • dementia
  • focus groups
  • memory
  • qualitative research
  • senility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Laditka, S. B., Laditka, J. N., Liu, R., Price, A. E., Friedman, D. B., Wu, B., ... Ivey, S. L. (2013). How do older people describe others with cognitive impairment? A multiethnic study in the United States. Ageing and Society, 33(3), 369-392. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X11001255

How do older people describe others with cognitive impairment? A multiethnic study in the United States. / Laditka, Sarah B.; Laditka, James N.; Liu, Rui; Price, Anna E.; Friedman, Daniela B.; Wu, Bei; Bryant, Lucinda L.; Corwin, Sara J.; Ivey, Susan L.

In: Ageing and Society, Vol. 33, No. 3, 2013, p. 369-392.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Laditka, SB, Laditka, JN, Liu, R, Price, AE, Friedman, DB, Wu, B, Bryant, LL, Corwin, SJ & Ivey, SL 2013, 'How do older people describe others with cognitive impairment? A multiethnic study in the United States', Ageing and Society, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 369-392. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X11001255
Laditka, Sarah B. ; Laditka, James N. ; Liu, Rui ; Price, Anna E. ; Friedman, Daniela B. ; Wu, Bei ; Bryant, Lucinda L. ; Corwin, Sara J. ; Ivey, Susan L. / How do older people describe others with cognitive impairment? A multiethnic study in the United States. In: Ageing and Society. 2013 ; Vol. 33, No. 3. pp. 369-392.
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