Community workshops provide brain health information for Asian-Americans

Research associates Dara Wasserman, Nicole Fleming and Sylvia Salazar provided nine lectures on brain health and dementia to over 250 community-dwelling Asian older adults earlier this year. Organized in partnership between the OHSU Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Asian Health & Services Center (AHSC), the lectures were translated into Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

The community learned about the work of the Layton Center and about the brain, including different types of memory and the differences between dementia – a brain disease – and age-related memory changes.

Researcher Dara Wasserman stands with a translator in front of attendees at a recent lecture.
Researcher Dara Wasserman and a translator at a recent lecture.

“Many seniors in our community think dementia is part of the natural aging process. They just accept it and let it be,” said Christine Lau, Chief Operating Officer at the AHSC. “The more information seniors and their family members receive, the better they can make decisions about their health. Family members can also better understand why their parents are acting the way they are.”

Originating last year, lectures continued and reached participants at community centers and churches across Beaverton and Portland. Working together with interpreters, the Layton Center team discussed signs and symptoms of the disease, offered tips for talking to doctors and explained what patients should expect at a dementia screening appointment.

“Many of our participants are more motivated to schedule an assessment following a workshop,” said Christine. “Seniors in the community feel better about an assessment if they are familiar with the organization that the assessor represents. They say, “I feel better about an assessment because I saw an OHSU employee at the workshop.”

The Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center is here to support patients, caregivers and families and healthcare providers. We provide educational programs for the public and health care professionals to increase awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s and healthy brain aging.

According to the AHSC, Asians have the second-highest rate of mortality among all ethnicities for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As a group, Asian-Americans have a longer life expectancy compared to other groups, which raises their risk for age-related conditions like dementia.

“Providing these lectures and collaborating with the AHSC allows OHSU and the Layton Center to better serve the Asian community,” said Dara Wasserman. “It’s a great opportunity to build relationships and to share our knowledge and research.”