Alzheimer’s Disease in the Latino Community

By Marcela Vargas, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Senior woman cookingGenerally, when we talk about health, we focus on the patient.  We discuss what puts people at risk of a disease, what they can do to prevent it, and what their treatment options are.  However, a disease often affects more than just the patient. The people surrounding the patient should be taken into consideration as well. This is particularly true for patients of Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day to raise awareness and share information about this disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death for adults over 65.  This disease particularly affects Latinos, who suffer from Alzheimer’s at a higher rate than non-Hispanic Whites.  This is due to several reasons:  not only do Latinos live longer, they also have higher rates of diseases such as diabetes, which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s.  Moreover, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, missed diagnoses for this disease are more common in our community.  This is a great concern for Hispanics because we are the fastest-growing population in the United States. 

Keep up with the latest from UnidosUS

Sign up for the weekly UnidosUS Action Network newsletter delivered every Thursday.

Unfortunately, we still do not know what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease.  Risk factors for developing the disease include aging and family history.  However, there are concrete steps you can take to reduce your risk for developing the disease, such as eating healthy, exercising your brain and body regularly, and leading an active social life.

As I mentioned earlier, Alzheimer’s disease has a great impact not only on the patient, but also on their friends and family.  One of the most affected parties is the caregiver.  This is particularly relevant in the Latino community because we are more likely to be the primary caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients compared to other racial and ethnic groups.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Hispanic caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients have reported more difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities and finding time for themselves.

In an effort to better educate our community about this devastating disease and its effects on all members of the family, NCLR has developed Mantenga su Mente Activa.  As part of this project, NCLR has been working on a video exploring what it’s like for a Latino family to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.  While we are still polishing the English version, we want to share the completed Spanish version with you.  Watch the video below to learn more about this disease in our community.

A Disfrutar Cada Momento: A Latino Family’s Experience with Alzheimer’s (English Subtitles)

You might also be interested in:

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR Decreased judgment, difficulty completing familiar tasks, and unusual changes in behavior or personality are all-too-familiar signs of someone living with Alzheimer’s […]

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR This Sunday, September 21, is World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive brain […]