Fundraising to help detect dementia in Greek Australians


Clinical neuropsychologist Matthew Staios conducted pioneering dementia research with a focus on misdiagnosis when testing culturally diverse communities for Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.

Mr Staios, who works with Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, called on Greeks in Australia to support a new fundraiser through AHEPA Victoria to develop culturally specific tests capable of to more accurately detect dementia and other neurological diseases in older Greeks. Australians.

His research will benefit the Greek community in Australia not only for the diagnosis of dementia, but also for treatment options and care planning.

“FRONDITHA has been very supportive of me throughout the year,” Mr. Staios said. Neos Cosmos.

“Donations to this research project will help employ research assistants to assist with new data collection, attend international and national research conferences to promote research, and assist in the publication of a clinical book that will be distributed worldwide, with a range of new tests developed specifically for Greek-speaking older people.

“The most important part, beyond publishing the research, is getting it out into mainstream scientific circles, especially neuropsychology.”

Older Greek Australians represent a significant number of the aging and culturally diverse Australian community who are at risk of developing brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“In a sample of 90 healthy participants – where healthy older people between the ages of 70 and 85, living independently in the community and showing no signs of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke cerebral – we are getting performances from Greeks at the level of someone with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, which is shocking.

Currently, the standardized tests used to assess and diagnose brain disorders have been developed for Anglo-Australian English-speaking groups.

Appropriate tests to detect cognitive changes in Greek Australians do not exist and may underestimate cognitive function in culturally diverse populations, which may lead to misdiagnosis.

“It’s one thing to take a test there, and another to be culturally competent and know how people behave and why they behave that way,” Staios said. Neos Cosmos.

“With IQ tests, people often use education level by years as an indication of how people should behave on tests. That’s one of the things we’re looking at.

Mathew Staios’ research is awarded $15,000 for dementia research and diagnosis in elderly Greek Australians.

Older generations of Greek immigrants, especially those exposed to World War II, had a particularly unstable upbringing affecting their performance on cognitive tests when language and cultural differences are not taken into consideration. Mr. Staios and his team got a good look at what that looks like in educationally disadvantaged settings.

“Misdiagnosis can occur due to failure to consider culturally diverse communities and their histories, as well as their differences in education.

“I want to focus my attention on these people because they were the most vulnerable and at risk of being misdiagnosed,” he said.

“We did new tests and used existing tests that were developed for Greeks in Greece. Our model of care has been guided by an “Anglosphere” perspective and the professionals who make these calls are part of it. »

“We are talking about multiculturalism and efforts are being made to put in place better practices, however, our health system is not equipped to face these challenges.

A similar problem affects older American Greeks, he realized during his travels and efforts to set up a multisite study in cities with large Greek populations in New York and Chicago, with the aim of better understanding the experiences of American Greeks and compare the results. with Greek Australians, contrasting them with those of Greek nationals.

Early in the pandemic, Staios presented his research at a conference in Denver, before meeting Greece’s deputy chief of mission at the time, Theodoros Bizakis in Washington DC.

Fundraising will help him continue his research and bring together Hellenes from Australia, America and Greece to tackle the problem as a united community.

After nearly three years of Covid-related delays, there is greater urgency to diagnose and help care for our elderly.

“During the pandemic, we have noticed a significant impact on older people and especially in people who have been diagnosed with cognitive impairment,” he said. Neo Cosmos.

Having worked throughout the pandemic, Staios has seen a ripple effect among patients, compounded by isolation and loneliness, and limited access to specialist services in hospitals.

“We went from face-to-face to telehealth. It wasn’t great for people who needed to be there for physical workouts. As soon as you start to see a change in yourself or someone you love, go see a doctor and try to connect with services. I cannot stress this enough.

“We are social creatures by nature and that level of connectedness and socialization, being close to family is what keeps us afloat. Covid has had a cumulative effect on how people deal with these difficult situations. It has been a difficult part of history to live through and many of its ripple effects are yet to be seen.

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