Shining the Spotlight on Alzheimer’s Research with Carol Shaw Burns, Ph.D

Honoring Trailblazers who are making an impact this Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, Board member of the Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Carol Shaw Burns, Ph.D, a leader in the field of senior care and dementia research. With a background as a licensed nursing home administrator and certified dementia practitioner explains disparities with African Americans caregivers.

Dr. Burns’ expertise spans various aspects of senior care, from independent living to skilled nursing, but her passion lies in understanding and addressing the challenges faced by dementia family caregivers, particularly within the African American community. Dr. Burns shed light on the significant stressors experienced by these caregivers, with coping with dementia-related behavioral symptoms emerging as a particularly daunting task.

Her research has uncovered alarming statistics: dementia-related behavioral symptoms afflict up to 92% of cases and contribute to a staggering 30% of all dementia-related costs in our communities. For African American caregivers, the burden is exacerbated by racial disparities, as increased frequency of these behaviors leads to heightened strain and upset compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts.

She highlighted the “double jeopardy” faced by African American caregivers, who not only spend more time in the caregiving role but also have less access to formal support and resources. “This chronic stress, coupled with health disparities, underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions and policies to support these caregivers.”

Guided by the stress process model, Dr. Burns’ groundbreaking research aims to unravel the complexities of caregiving experiences among African American caregivers. “By exploring racial differences in stressors and resources, as well as their impact on mental health outcomes over time, we hope to inform the development of more equitable and supportive environments for all caregivers.”

Dr. Burns also serves as board member of the Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, where she serves not only as a board member but also on the DE&I committee, that supports education and awareness for diverse elders and their family member caregivers.

Dr. Burns also serves as the Co-Chair for Illinois Women Conquer ALZ (IWCA), a group dedicated to engaging more women in the fight against Alzheimer’s. To learn more about this inspiring group or women or to join, visit ilalzwomen.org.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us honor the invaluable contributions of individuals like Dr. Carol Shaw Burns, whose dedication to improving the lives of others is truly inspiring. Through her pioneering research and advocacy. She is not only advancing our understanding of caregiving in diverse communities but also making a tangible difference in the lives of countless families affected by Alzheimer’s and all other dementias.

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