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A CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARISON OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE SYMPTOMS AND CAREGIVING IN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO

Abstract
This project draws on interviews conducted in Puebla, Mexico and Springfield, Massachusetts to identify cross-cultural differences in Alzheimer's disease (AD) caregiving practices and how symptoms are recognized and interpreted. Sixty-two people living with AD and their caregivers were interviewed across the two field sites. Interviews with the caregivers were open-ended and semi-structured, lasting 2-4 hours. Follow-up interviews used neuropsychology questionnaires (e.g., Neuropsychiatric Inventory) to document the severity of cognitive changes being experienced by the person living with AD. Analysis of the interviews revealed that Mexican caregivers sought diagnosis at a later stage of AD and for different reasons than caregivers in the United States. Those differences can be traced to divergent definitions of normal/abnormal aging and may call into question whether or not an “early” diagnosis is always the most desirable. Similarly, caregivers in Mexico were more troubled by behavioral disturbances that their United States counterparts, possibly explained by cultural differences in coping strategies for age-related cognitive decline. The impact of an AD diagnosis varies between the United States and Mexico, suggesting that education initiatives and post-diagnosis counseling/advising ought to reflect local realities.
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campusfive
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dissertation
Date
2021-05-14
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