Cross-Cultural Views of Dementia: A Focus on African Americans, Asians, Caucasians and Hispanics


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Dementia affects about 5,000,000 Americans and unfortunately this number will only continue to rise as the United States (US) population ages. It is a financially burdening disease, costing billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid assistance by family members annually. As the US demographics continue to change, it is important to understand the perception and lived experience of dementia across different cultures. The understanding of this concept will improve education and communication, which in turn is likely to improve early detection of the disease and reduce cost by avoiding unnecessary treatments and providing a culturally appropriate care plan through the journey of the disease. Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experience of having a close family member diagnosed with dementia and to explore the cultural perspectives of dementia.

Method: The study utilized phenomenology and four to six participants from four ethnic groups were included in the study. All participants were direct relatives of the patient diagnosed with dementia. The participants included spouses, children and siblings. Data was collected using semi-structured interview method, chosen from four cultural groups African Americans, Asians, Caucasians, and Hispanics representing the population in a long-term care facility. Interviews were recorded. Data Analysis: All data collected was coded and similar themes were collated together. Four major themes and seven sub-themes were identified. Themes were viewed across cultures and within cultures. Conclusion: It was concluded that there are similarities within cultures and across cultures, and more significant differences across cultures than within cultures.