HABIT Habla Español

Oct 2, 2018 | Dr. Octavio Santos | @droctaviosantos

Hispanic Couple

Hispanics are the largest ethnoracial minority group in the United States (currently at 17.8% and projected to increase by almost 400% by 2060). Among Hispanics, 76% are Spanish dominant or balanced bilinguals (equally fluent in English and Spanish). Of those 65 years of age or older, 21% do not speak any English. Compared to Caucasians, Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and face many barriers to care (e.g., language, different cultural beliefs) that limit their access to early diagnosis, treatment, and research.

As a core component of the HABIT program, the Memory Support System training (AKA "the calendar") has been proven effective in helping participants with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) follow their treatment plan, remain independent, and improve their memory and self-efficacy. Care partners participating in the Memory Support System have also seen improvements in their mood compared to care partners not in the program. Like pretty much all programs for MCI in the United States, the Memory Support System has only been used in English with Caucasians so far.

This past April under the mentorship of Dr. Melanie Chandler (HABIT Director at Mayo Clinic Florida), I applied for the Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship Award to Promote Diversity Program, by proposing a research study to do the Spanish translation and cultural adaptation of the Memory Support System training. The goal of this program is to support minority researchers in training who are involved in Alzheimer’s research. Today, I am excited to announce that we were awarded a $140,000 grant to conduct our proposed study!

During this new research study, we will invite 20 Spanish-speaking Hispanics with MCI and their care partners to learn the new Spanish Memory Support System. We will measure cognitive functioning, day-to-day activities, self-efficacy, and mood before and after the program to see how it works with Hispanics.  This research study is an important step to develop and promote interventions that meet the needs of the Hispanic community and will also lead the way to more evidence-based programs for other languages and cultures.

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