Thursday, April 18, 2024

Spike in Alzheimer’s Among Latinos Prompts Tough Conversations

With Latinos among the fastest-growing minority in the country, the number of Latinos with Alzheimer’s is also rising, expected to spike to more than eight times by 2060, roughly 3.5 million, per findings by the University of Southern California’s Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging and the Latinos Against Alzheimer’s network. With advanced age as a leading cause of Alzheimer’s, Latinos are 50 percent more likely to get Alzheimer’s because they tend to outlive their white counterparts.

“This is an incoming tsunami,” said Dr. William Vega, one of the report’s authors and the Roybal Institute’s executive director. “If we don’t find breakthrough medication, we are going to be facing a terrible financial crisis.” The ‘Alzheimer’s tsunami’ is prompting tough conversations among Latino families, who culturally find it difficult to place their elders in nursing homes instead of caring for them in their own homes.

For many Latinos who take on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones, they also take on strains to their own personal health, their marriage, career, and overall quality of life. It is estimated than 1.8 million Latino families currently care for someone with Alzheimer’s, or some other type of dementia.

Although the number of elderly Latinos living U.S. nursing homes grew by about 55 percent from 1999 to 2008, nursing home care can be costly, and for many Latino families it is simply not an option. The USC report estimates Alzheimer’s among Latinos will have a cumulative economic impact of about $2.35 trillion by 2060.

In 2010, the Social Security Administration recognized early-onset of Alzheimer’s as a medical condition eligible for disability income, and many clinical trials and other free or low-cost programs are available in many communities. It is important to invest in the education of these communities and empower families to do their research and ask for help.

The Mercury News