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The Healing Power of Counseling: Addressing How Racial Inequities Impact Dementia

By Northwestern University’s Online Masters in Counseling program

After her husband died in 1986, Cornelia Moss lived alone in her native Arkansas for 13 years before moving to Wisconsin to live with her daughter. 

As the wife of a cotton farmer who raised 16 children in a segregated small town in the South, Moss, who was Black, had lived a hard life filled as much with stress as joy.

“You know, now when I drive by and see people sitting on the porch just relaxing, I think, that was not something my parents could do,” said Moss’ daughter, Jewelline Wiggins, 70. “They never had lax time. There was always something to do just to maintain.”

Moss’ mind steadily broke down during her time in Wisconsin. Her family saw small, gradual changes in her state of mind. 

“What we started noticing was that she would get very irritated when you would point out that she had misspoken or misplaced something, or had forgotten something,” Wiggins said. “It frightened her and it bothered her a lot.”

Moss is part of a pattern identified in a growing body of academic research External link  about the prevalence of dementia in Black Americans. Those studies point to racial inequities in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, dispelling previous beliefs that genetic factors were the root cause. They also discuss growing evidence that early-life stress and neighborhood conditions contribute to dementia risk later in life.

Black people are about twice as likely as White people to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but less likely to be diagnosed with the condition. One reason for this is the history of abuses against Black people External link  in medical research which has resulted in a well-documented reluctance for them to take part in additional research or seek medical help. Some other contributing factors may include cultural beliefs on aging, inequalities in health care, as well as varying life course influences, like exposure to a stressful environment.


Black men and women are shown to be most at risk, experiencing over 60 percent more incidents of major stressors
than non-Hispanic whites over their lifetimes. Continue reading

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SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. Justpeace.org explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission SheVille.org provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.
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