May is Older Americans Month, a time to reflect upon and honor the contributions of our elderly loved ones. It’s a time to pay a visit or give a phone call to our mamá, papá,abuelita, tío or whoever represents that pillar of wisdom in our lives. It is also a time to start thinking about healthy aging.
Hispanics have higher life expectancies than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. It is estimated that the average Latino will live to age 87 by the year 2050. While we are living longer, we aren’t necessarily living healthier. The first step toward healthy aging is to equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge. Take this month as an opportunity to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, because it has the potential to touch us all, in one way or another.
Five Things to Know about Alzheimer’s Disease
- It is a brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that worsen over time. It is the most common form of dementia and affects over five million Americans today; most are ages 65 and older. Learn about the 10 signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s here.
- While it can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than non-Hispanic Whites. This is partly due to Latinos experiencing more chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Both are risk factors for the disease.
- Age and family history are all risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. However, leading a healthy lifestyle is shown to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s. This includes eating nutritious foods and staying active, both physically and mentally.
- While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment for symptoms is available. Treatment can help slow down the progression of the disease and improve quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers.
- Women are more likely to experience the burden of the disease, both personally and as caregivers. Two-thirds of those living with the disease, and more than 60 percent of caregivers, are women. Among Latinos, caregivers tend to be family members. Luckily, there are ways to lessen the burden. Check out this video that highlights a Latino family’s experience with Alzheimer’s.