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Dementia isn’t color-blind. Services may be

Dementia isn’t color-blind. Services may be


“Dementia does not discriminate based on country of origin, but services to improve the lives of people with the condition can unintentionally do so.”

So begins Colin Capper’s column on The Guardian’s Social Care Network this week.

“While more people than ever in the U.K. are receiving a diagnosis and getting the right information to help them to cope, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are underrepresented in dementia services and are routinely missing out.”

Capper points out that estimates put those with dementia from BAME communities at 25,000 in England and Wales, and says that number is expected to grow.

He tells The Guardian that the number of people over 65 from South Asia is due to rise sharply. “What we are now seeing is an ageing South Asian population who seem more likely to develop early onset dementia and may present a higher prevalence of vascular dementia than their white British counterparts.”

Those from BAME communities, afraid of stigma, shy from dementia services, but when they reach out, the information is confusing and has no relevance to their culture.

The Alzheimer’s Society, where Capper works, is developing culturally tailored services including information services, singing sessions and peer support groups.

“Our new information program for South Asian families is a fantastic example,” he says. There is a series of face-to-face sessions and an educational DVD to share with family.

Pilots began in Enfield, Coventry, Leicester, Bradford and Rochdale in March, and will be rolled out to another 15 locations.

“In many South Asian languages, such as Tamil, there is no word for dementia.”

Colin Capper is service development manager at the Alzheimer’s Society in the U.K. 

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