Alzheimer’s is increasing across virtually all ethnic groups, but none are more exposed than Latinos. They are at a greater risk for dementia than all other ethnic or racial groups. It is expected that 500,000 Latinos in the U.S. currently are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to 1.3 million over the next two decades.
After age 65, the prevalence of developing dementia doubles every five years, i.e. at age 70, one is five times more likely to develop dementia than at age 65, and again five times more at age 75, etc. It reaches 47% for those over age 85.
Research points to several reasons for this disproportionate effect on Hispanics. First Hispanics live longer. They currently represent 5% of the population over age 85 and that is expected to grow to 17% over the next two decades. Education weighs in with Hispanics having an overall lower level of education. General health, such as type two diabetes which affect Hispanics 64% more than the rest of the population and, they receive a disproportionate lower degree of health care. Also contributing factors such as lower economic standing, language barriers and access to health care.
There is also evidence that one notable genetic marker is not present in many Hispanics leaving them more vulnerable to late stage dementia.
There isn’t a simple answer for countering this trend. Best advice is being certain everyone has access to good healthcare, particularly preventive care. Basic issues of avoiding obesity can drop diabetes rates and leave seniors less vulnerable to many health issues, including dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association Contact Center is staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with Spanish-speaking information specialists and professional care consultants to provide immediate assistance to individuals and families who need help, no matter where they live. Accessible through a single toll-free number and web site (1-800-272-3900; www.alz.org), the Center provides immediate information and advice and links callers directly to local offices of the Alzheimer’s Association for ongoing help and support.