Higher Dementia Risk in African Caribbean Older People

[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 4, November 2011].


There appears to be a higher prevalence of dementia in African-Caribbean people generally, possibly related to vascular risk factors, so this study investigated the prevalence of dementia in 218 older people from an African-Caribbean country of birth compared with 218 similar White UK-born people aged 60 years and over.

African-Caribbean participants with dementia were roughly 8 years younger than their White counterparts. Prevalence of dementia was significantly higher in the African-Caribbean group (9.6%) than the White group (6.9%).

The authors conclude that older people of an African-Caribbean country of birth (in the UK) show a greater prevalence of dementia – and at a younger age – than in the indigenous White population. These findings have likely implications for service providers and possible preventative interventions (for example concerning the role of vascular risk factors and / or socio-economic factors).

Full Text Link (Access online requires a journal subscription or a suitable Athens password).


Adelman, S. Blanchard, M. [and] Rait, G. [et al] (2011). Prevalence of dementia in African-Caribbean compared with UK-born White older people: two-stage cross-sectional study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, August 2011, Vol.199(2), pp.119-25. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).

Interesting Background Information

There are approximately 15,000 people with dementia in minority ethnic groups in England; this is estimated to be approximately 3% of the overall number of people with dementia. South Asian and African Caribbean populations represent the largest ethnic minority groups in the UK.

The DAN EMDAP project discovered barriers for Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups when accessing dementia services. Language difficulties and cultural misunderstandings can result in delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. The use of culturally specific cognitive tests may help.

Full Text Link


National Dementia Strategy Working Group at the Department of Health. (2009). Equality Impact Assessment: Living well with dementia. National Dementia Strategy. London: Department of Health. 2009.

There is an established record of unsatisfactory encounters between mental health services and people of African-Caribbean origin. BMEs commonly present “late” with slow-onset conditions such as dementia, usually waiting until acute problems are experienced. In the case of dementia, this can involve otherwise preventable breakdowns in family support and unnecessary hospitalisations or admissions to care homes.

Full Text Link


Sashidharan, SP. National Institute of Mental Health, NIMHE (2003). Inside Outside: Improving Mental Health Services for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in England. Leeds: Department of Health (National Institute for Mental Health in England), 2003.

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in For Researchers (mostly), For Social Workers (mostly), National, Quick Insights, Statistics, UK, Universal Interest and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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