People around the world do not have the same access to health care to keep their brains healthy. AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health recently released a report that offers proactive steps to improve this brain health inequity. The authors discuss how communities, health care, governments and others can work together to create environments that bolster healthy minds.
By Alzheimer's Prevention Bulletin
Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias impact people all over the world. However, not everyone has the same access to health care and community support. This lack of brain health equity is the focus of the recently published report from AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health. The Council emphasize the importance of universal access to programs and services that strengthen brain health for all people.
“The GCBH believes the approach to building better brain health for all must be holistic and coordinated, with contributions from the public and private sectors, faith-based institutions, and non-profit advocacy groups,” according to the report. “Working with and guided by the communities themselves, strategic relationships to promote brain health can be leveraged and expanded to achieve more productive collaboration.”
The GCBH is a years-long partnership with AARP. The independent group is made up of scientists, researchers, health professionals and policy experts from around the world focus on memory disorders and cognition.
Brain health is influenced by the physical world we live in. Social situations, education, access to health care, safety and the environment all impact our cognitive health. People living in urban environments typically have more access to health care, while underserved and minority communities often have more difficulties obtaining quality medical services.
Definition of brain health equity
GCBH defines brain health equity as “the fair and just opportunity to have a healthy mind through the course of life. All people should have this opportunity, which should not be undermined by systemic policies and practices, including population-wide factors that confer unfair disadvantages or advantages to some.”
There are many reasons for brain health disparities around the world.
Addressing Brain Health Equity
The GCBH report emphasizes that all societies have a responsibility to optimize brain health in their communities. The GCBH report offer several categories of actions to address the disparity in brain health. Of utmost importance is the need to treat people in ways that honor and respect their individual cultures and beliefs. The Council includes the following suggestions:
In conclusion, failing to do so will only create more economic and social costs.
A successful approach to improving brain health must include many factors including medical and nonmedical approaches to prevention and care to counter unhealthy practices. Better brain health will allow people to live more rewarding lives and contribute meaningful ways to their families and communities.