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Perspectives of African American Older Adults on Brain Health

“Brains Get Tired Too”

Bardach, Shoshana H. PhD*; Benton, Beverly PhD; Walker, Charlene MA; Alfred, Doris Love AA§; Ighodaro, Eseosa PhD; Caban-Holt, Allison PhD; Jicha, Gregory A. MD, PhD#

Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: October–December 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 4 - p 354–358
doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000335
Original Articles

Background: Statistics suggest that African Americans have a disproportionately high prevalence of Alzheimer disease (AD), yet are less likely to enroll in AD clinical trials than white individuals. Although research has previously identified various barriers to participation, relatively little is known about how to overcome these barriers and engage African American individuals in AD research. The purpose of this study is to better understand how African Americans conceptualize brain health and their ability to influence healthy brain aging.

Methods: Three African American community advocates each facilitated a small group of African American participants over 8 to 10 sessions of a photovoice process involving discussion and sharing of images focused on brain health. Sessions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim and photographs were uploaded.

Findings: Participants recognized a diversity of what brain health can mean and indicated an interconnectedness between brain health and its influences. Key factors that were identified by group members as key to brain health included lifestyle factors, activity, and engagement and nature, resiliency, and positivity.

Discussion: These emic insights into perceptions of brain health may represent important foci for targeted messaging strategies to promote brain health and research engagement within the African American population.

*Graduate Center for Gerontology

Behavioral Science

College of Medicine

#Department of Neurology and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky

Bluegrass Community and Technical College

African American Dementia Outreach Partnership, Lexington

§Love’s Angels Early Childhood Development Center, Paris, KY

Supported by P30 AG028383.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Shoshana H. Bardach, PhD, 1030 S. Broadway, Suite 5, Lexington, KY 40504 (e-mail:

Received February 25, 2019

Accepted June 10, 2019

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