BMC / Nature
School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Research in Aged Care
Neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia such as agitation and aggression are common in people living with dementia. The presentation of neuropsychiatric symptoms is influenced by the cultural background of people living with dementia. Further, identifying factors contributing to neuropsychiatric symptoms may be complicated if people living with dementia are immigrants or from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Most of what is known about differences in neuropsychiatric symptoms between racial and ethnic groups living with dementia come from community-based samples. This study investigated differences in clinico-demographics and neuropsychiatric symptoms between immigrants and non-immigrants living with dementia in residential aged care homes who were referred to two Dementia Support Australia programs.
This was a retrospective observational cross-sectional study from 2018 to 2022 using data extracted from the Dementia Support Australia database. Immigrant status was identified by documented country of birth. We conducted exploratory subgroup analyses for English-speaking or non-English-speaking immigrants in comparison to non-immigrants. Neuropsychiatric Inventory and PainChek® were used to assess neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia and pain, respectively.
Of the 23,889 referrals, 36% were immigrants living with dementia. Immigrants were 0.8 years older than non-immigrants on average. Immigrants had a slightly higher prevalence of mixed dementia (9.5%) than non-immigrants (8.2%). Overall, the groups had no difference in the severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms and associated caregiver distress. However, there was a significant difference in the total number of neuropsychiatric inventory domains (Cohen’s d = -0.06 [-0.09, - 0.02], p < .001) between non-English-speaking immigrants and non-immigrants. Immigrants were more likely to present with agitation/aggression, while non-immigrants were more likely to present with hallucinations. Factors contributing to neuropsychiatric symptoms were common between the groups, with language barriers and cultural considerations frequently endorsed for immigrants.
This study reveals a mixed picture of neuropsychiatric symptoms between immigrants and non-immigrants. However, due to the exploratory nature of the hypotheses, our findings need to be replicated in future studies to confirm any conclusions. There is a need for increased awareness on the impact of culture and language on neuropsychiatric symptoms for people receiving residential care. Future studies investigating neuropsychiatric symptoms in different immigrant groups will help increase our understanding of neuropsychiatric symptoms for all people.
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