During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is spreading awareness on how Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia disproportionately affect the Hispanic population and what can be done to address it.
Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or another dementia than White Americans, and approximately 13% of Hispanics aged 65 or older have the disease. Latinos are projected to have the steepest increase in Alzheimer’s disease in the next 40 years, compared to other ethnic groups.
Researchers are still trying to understand the reasons behind this health disparity and how to address it.
Most research related to increased risk of Alzheimer’s among Hispanics/Latinos points to a combination of socioeconomic factors and a higher prevalence of several health conditions.
Hispanic Americans are more likely than White Americans to have uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes, have a higher prevalence of heart disease and stroke, and also face barriers to accessing preventive services such as exercise programs, early diagnosis and medication.
“Socioeconomic factors such as education, income and occupation deeply affect the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, and usually sustain and worsen health disparities,” says Maria Mora Pinzon, M.D., M.S., a primary care research fellow and scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Health disparities are due to social, economic and/or environmental disadvantages. For example, someone who can’t complete high school because they have to work to help the family will not only drop out of school — which is a risk factor — they will have fewer opportunities for stable jobs, resulting in lower incomes, difficulty getting healthy foods, physical inactivity, and more barriers to control chronic conditions like high blood pressure.”
Experts believe the key to addressing this issue is continuing research around Hispanic Americans and dementia, as well as increasing the number of Hispanic people participating in clinical studies.
The Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch is a free, easy-to-use service that will let you search for studies, sign up for study updates or connect with researcher teams. Everybody can participate, including people living with dementia, caregivers and healthy volunteers without dementia. To learn more, visit alz.org/trialmatch.
Research has also shown that 6 in 10 Hispanic Americans believe that a significant loss of memory or cognitive abilities is a normal part of aging, preventing them from seeking a diagnosis or finding support.
“While dementia may be difficult to accept, getting a diagnosis for yourself or your loved one is so important to help you take the next steps and have the best possible options for the future,” said Sergio Cendejas, Community Engagement Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease. For a free bilingual care consultation in English and Spanish, call our 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900. The Alzheimer’s Association Ventura County office is located at 2580 E Main Street #201.