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Background: Different populations of individuals demonstrate varying levels of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) knowledge, as well as commonly held misconceptions about the nature of the disease and its risk factors. Older adults often demonstrate lower scores on Alzheimer’s disease knowledge scales and African American adults are often specifically not aware of their higher Alzheimer’s risk status compared to other racial groups. In addition, African American older adults are more likely to receive the fewest AD interventions. Methods: We measured the Alzheimer’s knowledge of twenty community-dwelling elders at two separate time points (baseline and 6 month follow-up) as part of a larger study on AD health coaching. Participants (n=20) were recruited from low-income communities within the Richmond, Virginia (RVA) area; the sample was 85% African American individuals (n=17), 45% female (n=9) and 55% male (n=11). Participants completed demographic measures, true/false AD knowledge measures, a relational ageism scale, and questions about their health and habits. Results: Similar to previous research, this population of older adults held common misconceptions about AD, including the ideas that mental exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease (20% answered correctly) and individuals with Alzheimer’s are incapable of making decisions about their care (30% answered correctly). In this sample, the majority of African American older adults were aware of the fact that they make up the population at the highest risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (80% answered correctly). Analyses also found no significant relationship between AD knowledge and health outcomes, alcohol consumption, or education. Conclusion: AD knowledge needs to be better addressed in low-income, racially diverse older adults.

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Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease Knowledge in Low-Income, Richmond, VA Community Dwelling Older Adults

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