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International and Canadian experts call for more culturally appropriate care and support for minorities and Indigenous peoples with Alzheimer’s disease

Toronto, March 29 – The serious challenges facing minorities and Indigenous peoples living with dementia, including Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, will be the focus of the last plenary session at the 26th Annual Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International in Toronto. The session takes place Tuesday, March 29 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.Minorities and Indigenous peoples face multiple hurdles to getting a proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment and care because of language difficulties, cultural differences and social isolation. In many communities, dementia is largely a hidden problem because of stigma or it’s shrugged off as a natural part of aging. All too often, they slip through the cracks of the regular health system left to face emotional, physical and financial problems on their own.

But countries around the world are partnering with local and rapidly growing diverse populations to develop creative ways of lifting these barriers to build awareness and increase early diagnosis and intervention.

In the Netherlands, where there are more than a million Turkish and Moroccan migrants, the Dutch Alzheimer’s Association created a unique method to reach out to them with proper information and support. The Association was instrumental in transforming local and regional care systems so that migrants who have dementia get help at all levels.

“Multicultural dementia care should be offered in every multicultural society,” says Dr. Nienke van Wezel, a gerontologist with the Association. “It’s not just about translating brochures it requires specific and culturally appropriate information.”

“Alzheimer’s disease and dementia represent an emerging health concern for Aboriginal peoples in Canada,” says Dr. Kristen Jacklin, Associate Professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine at Laurentian University, who will also be presenting at Tuesday’s plenary.

Risk factors like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor nutrition as well as the lack of education and access to health care are contributing to an accelerated prevalence of dementia among Canada’s Aboriginals. “It’s absolutely incumbent upon us to do the work necessary to understand how dementia is being experienced by Aboriginal peoples and it’s equally important that we work in partnership to find solutions that are appropriate, sensitive and safe.”

Robin Shawanoo will bring his front line experience of working with Aboriginal peoples to the session as well. A member of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation near Sarnia, Ontario. Shawanoo is the First Link® Oneida of the Thames coordinator as well as a social worker with a degree in psychology. It’s his job to assess and counsel members of the Oneida Nation of the Thames on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of London and Middlesex. Shawanoo will explain how he integrates elements of culture, tradition and spirituality to develop tools and programs that increase understanding of dementia within the community and improve and expand access to care.

For more information, visit www.adi2011.org and follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter.

About Alzheimer’s Disease International
Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is the international federation of over 70 Alzheimer associations. It was founded in 1984 as a network for Alzheimer associations around the world to share and exchange information, resources and skills. ADI is based in London and is registered as a non-profit organization in the USA. ADI has been in official relations with the World Health Organization since 1996. Each member is the national Alzheimer association in their country who support people with dementia and their families. ADI’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their families throughout the world. Visit www.alz.co.uk.

NOTE: Media registration is complimentary for credentialed members of the media.
To qualify, you need an assignment letter from the organization for which you will be covering the conference (signed and on letterhead), along with professional identification for yourself as a journalist. Please contact Kirstin Blakey at [email protected]

For further information:

Rosanne Meandro, Communications, Alzheimer Society of Canada (Toronto)
416-847-8920, BlackBerry: 416-669-5715 [email protected]

Virginia Bawlf, Communications, Alzheimer Society of Canada (Toronto)
416-847-2957, cell: 647-379-4145, [email protected]