July 2, 2015

Oanh Meyer, Ph.D.A. Susana Ramírez, UC Merced assistant professor of public health, will research “Innovative Application of Communication Theory to Increase Latino Research Participation.” The project addresses the challenge of communicating in a culturally appropriate manner with caregivers of aging Latinos, by collecting data to create a culturally tailored peer-navigator intervention to enhance decision-making among caregivers of Latino patients with dementia who experience neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Mariaelena Gonzalez, UC Merced assistant professor of public health, will research “Understanding Oral Health Disparities in the Merced County.” The project seeks to identify oral-health-related factors that may contribute to the risk of cognitive impairment among Latinos in rural, low-income counties, through the use of a community-based survey. A growing body of literature has documented the relationship between tooth loss, periodontal disease and cognitive impairment.

Oanh Meyer, a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Neurology, will research “Acculturation Influences on Caregiving Intervention Outcomes in REACH II.” Though the older population will increase among all racial and ethnic groups, the Latino older population is expected to grow the fastest, adding to the number of Latinos diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Caregiving for someone with dementia is associated with a variety of poor outcomes, and this burden may be even greater for Latino caregivers, thus exacerbating existing health disparities for this group. The project will explore this phenomenon.