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Dementia and black and minority ethnic carers

There are currently 850, 000 people living with dementia in the UK of whom
approximately 25,000 are estimated to be from a minority ethnic background (APPG,2013). The number of people from minority ethnic communities living with dementia is set to increase to 50,000 by 2051 and 172,000 2051. This is a seven-fold increase in 40 years compared to the two-fold increase in the majority population (Wohland et al, 2010). The main reason for this expected increase is the ageing of some key immigrant populations but better awareness amongst minority ethnic communities
and current policy to increase timely diagnosis may also play a part. Furthermore,
evidence suggests vascular dementia is more common in minority ethnic groups
(particularly South Asian, African and Caribbean) due to higher prevalence of risk
factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Young onset
dementia (under 65 years) comprises a larger proportion of those diagnosed in
minority ethnic communities (6%) compared to the White British population (2%)
(Knapp et al, 2007).

  • Key Messages
    Do they look after their own? Although many minority ethnic carers feel
    culturally obliged to provide care, this does not mean that all minority
    ethnic carers feel willing to provide care or feel prepared for the various
    aspects of providing support for the person living with dementia.
  • Assumptions should not be made that minority ethnic communities do not
    require health care services due to their cultural values.
  • The nature of family care in minority ethnic communities differs in comparison
    to White British families. In South Asian cultures, for example, the main
    care responsibilities tend to fall on the daughter or the daughter-in-law
    and therefore the carer population in South Asian communities is younger
    than the British carer population. Care is more often shared between
    several of adult-children, and therefore dementia has a more widespread
    impact on the family beyond the ‘main carer’.
  • Health service support for carers from minority ethnic communities is limited
    by a wide range of barriers to accessing services. There appears to be a
    preference for utilising third sector voluntary organisations, and
    partnership working may be a good strategy for service development.
    Carer coping strategies are often focused around religion and spirituality.
    Many minority ethnic carers report satisfaction and pride from fulfilling
    their care duties and meeting their religious obligations.
  • The negative impact of caregiving is significant for minority ethnic carers as
    they are more likely to experience multiple jeopardy (the stigma of
    dementia, being perceived as a migrant, racism, and a lower socioeconomic
    status).
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Author(s): Dr Sahdia Parveen and Professor Jan R Oyebode
Publisher: Race Equality Foundation
Publication date: June 2018