Close up of male hand holding elderly female hands

Alzheimer’s Disease Risk and Ethnic Factors: The Case of Arab Americans

Life Course

Project Summary

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) afflicts 11% of the U.S. population aged 65 and over, and half of these cases go undiagnosed. The incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD is higher among many racial/ ethnic minorities, but rates among Arab Americans, who possess more cardiovascular risk factors than whites, are unknown. The first of its kind, this study will collect regionally representative data from Arab Americans (N=600) aged 65 and over living in the metro-Detroit area, home to the largest and most visible Arab American community in the U.S. Additionally, we will leverage an existing sample of black and white older adults from the Survey of Social Relations (SRS) to compare and contrast prevalence of AD and the role of structural factors among Arab Americans to other populations in the same geographic area. The planned project will form the basis of a future prospective study to advance understanding of racial/ethnic health disparities in AD incidence. The specific aims are to: 1) Characterize cognition and AD risk among Arab Americans in metro-Detroit; 2) Determine the contribution of immigrant factors to cognition and AD risk among older Arab Americans; 3) Identify aspects of social networks that have greatest effects on cognition and AD risk. This project will produce currently unavailable normative data that will assist practitioners in the assessment of AD in English and Arabic speaking Arab American elders. With a focus on AD disparities, and socio-behavioral factors, these data will provide opportunities to compare to regional and national data on other racial/ethnic minorities in the quest to quantify health disparities and identify mechanisms that cause and sustain them. In addition to delineating health disparities, studying Arab Americans can refine our understanding of immigrant health in the U.S. Further, the study of social networks among diverse racial/ethnic groups will reveal how and why social ties form and function as a protective factor (direct and buffering) on cognitive health. Understanding the role of structural and cultural factors will refine theory about AD disparities and provide key information to better develop intervention strategies for effective management of this growing and high-cost disease.


Toni C Antonucci

Scroll to Top