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Association of Race, Ethnicity, Education, and Neighborhood Context With Dementia Prevalence and Cognitive Impairment Severity Among Older Adults Receiving Medicaid-Funded Home and Community-Based Services.

OBJECTIVE: While racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic group disparities in cognitive impairment and dementia prevalence are well-documented among community-dwelling older adults, little is known about these disparity trends among older adults receiving Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services (HCBS) in lieu of nursing home admission. The authors determined how dementia prevalence and cognitive impairment severity compare by race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and neighborhood context in a Medicaid HCBS population.

DESIGN/SETTING: A cross-sectional study in Connecticut.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults age ≥65 in the HCBS program, January-March 2019 (N = 3,520).

MEASUREMENTS: The data source was Connecticut's HCBS program Universal Assessment tool. The authors employed two outcomes: Cognitive Performance Scale (CPS2), a 9-point measure ranging from cognitively intact-very severe impairment; and presence or not of either diagnosed dementia or CPS2 score ≥4 (major impairment). Neighborhood context was measured using the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI).

RESULTS: Cohort characteristics: 75.7% female; mean(SD) age = 79.1(8.2); Non-Hispanic White = 47.8%; Hispanic = 33.6%; Non-Hispanic Black = 15.9%. Covariate-adjusted multivariate analyses revealed no dementia/major impairment prevalence differences among White, Black, and Hispanic individuals, but impairment severity was greater among Hispanic participants (b = 0.22; p = 0.02). People with more than HS education had less severe impairment (b = -0.12; p <0.001) and lower likelihood of dementia/major impairment (AOR = 0.61; p <0.001). Dementia/major impairment likelihood and impairment severity were greater in less socially vulnerable neighborhoods.

CONCLUSION: Racial and ethnic group differences in cognitive impairment are less pronounced in Medicaid-funded HCBS cohorts than in other community-dwelling older adult cohorts. SVI results suggest that, among other possible explanations, older adults with dementia may move to lower social vulnerability neighborhoods where supportive family members reside.

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