Perceptions of and Knowledge Acquisition about Brain Health and Aging among Latin American Immigrants:A QualitativePaper

Sophia W. Light*, Daniel Dohan, Katherine L. Possin, Michael S. Wolf, Katherine P. Rankin, Serggio Lanata, Alissa Bernstein Sideman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Older immigrants of Latin American descent are disproportionately impacted by dementia, yet little is known about their dementia- and brain health-related knowledge. We explored perspectives on brain health and aging in this population to inform the development of culturally-relevant interventions. Methods: Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 Spanish-speaking immigrants over 60. Questions addressed knowledge about the brain, perceptions of healthy and unhealthy aging, ideas of how to take care of one’s brain, and where knowledge was acquired. Responses were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: The following themes emerged: (1) Descriptions of the brain varied, from anatomy, cognition, and psychology to disease. (2) Perceptions of healthy aging included independence, memory, emotions, and orientation. (3) Ideas of how to care for the brain included physical, social, and cognitive engagement. (4) Knowledge was acquired in childhood, communities, healthcare settings, careers, and media. Conclusions: Results showed significant variability in knowledge. Findings may be leveraged to improve interventions that address brain health literacy disparities among older Latin American immigrants. Clinical Implications: Takeaways involve increasing education about the structure and functions of the brain, promoting realistic understandings of what nonnormative brain aging entails, and increasing knowledge of empirically-supported maintenance approaches. Dissemination may be increased via healthcare providers, community centers, churches, and media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Gerontologist
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • aging
  • brain health
  • dementia
  • immigrant health
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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