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October 2022

Health Matrix. 1988-89 Winter; 6(4): 33-8.

Alzheimer's disease in the context of black (Southern) culture.

Gaines AD.

Medical and lay interest in Alzheimer's disease has increased dramatically in recent years. A newly developing aspect of this overall interest centers on assessing the nature and impact of Alzheimer's in the context of minority populations. This article seeks to add to the scant literature on culture, ethnicity, and Alzheimer's disease. The paper considers clarification of some key terms "culture," "ethnicity," and "race" as an important initial step in placing Alzheimer's within any cultural context. The focus of the present article is southern (American) culture and its most common northern representative, black culture. The paper shows that the meanings and signification of symptoms associated with alzheimer's are likely to be interpreted in terms of a folk medical system's models of illness, which is described, and not in terms of biomedical models. The cultural contextual basis of symptom assessment, the cultural meaning of symptoms and their implications for help-seeking are discussed as are features of family social organization in black southern culture which have implications for care-giving and care-burdens.

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