Anthropology and Understanding Age-Related Cognitive Impairment
Peter J. Whitehouse, Atwood D. Gaines, Heather Lindstrom, and Janice E. Graham. Anthropological contributions to the understanding of age-related cognitive impairment. Lancet Neurology 2005; 4: 320-326. DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(05)70075-2
Medical anthropology has not only helped us to understand the social, political, and ethical foundations of modern biomedicine, but also improved the identification and treatment of patients in various geographic, sociological, and medical contexts. In this article, we present an anthropological perspective on the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related cognitive impairment. The ubiquity of cognitive changes in the growing number of elderly people around the world, and the many diverse responses that human communities have taken to such challenges, require biocultural approaches. Anthropology can serve as an ally in accomplishing the goal of improving the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment by highlighting the role of sociocultural processes that influence the development, meaning, and experience of dementia. So too can it serve as a framework for criticism of biomedical research, theory, and practice.