Alzheimer's Association Report
Predicts Disease Will Soar 600 Percent
Alzheimer's disease and related dementias are projected to increase
more than six-fold among Hispanics in the U.S. during the first half
of the 21st century, according to a new report released by the Alzheimer's
This increase means that 1.3 million Hispanics will have Alzheimer's
disease by 2050, compared to fewer than 200,000 currently living with
"This report should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the
nation," said Stephen McConnell, Ph.D., senior vice president
and public policy for the Alzheimer's Association. "As the fastest
growing population in the country and the group that will have the
greatest life expectancy of all ethnic groups, Hispanics will experience
a dramatic rise in their risk of Alzheimer's disease. This will overwhelm
their families and communities unless we take action now."
The report, entitled "Alzheimer's Disease among the Hispanic
Population," brought swift reaction from major Hispanic groups
"The Congress and the Administration must quickly approve the
Alzheimer's Association's request for an additional $40 million for
Alzheimer research," said Hector Flores, National President of
the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which includes
600 councils and 115,000 members nationwide.
"This is our best hope for developing new medicines to help those
with the disease and to ultimately find a cure."
Raul Yzaguirre, President of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR),
which serves five million people and has 310 affiliates nationwide,
said, "We cannot sit back and do nothing when we know that the
Hispanic community will face a devastating blow from Alzheimer's disease
in the years ahead. We must work for more funding, raise awareness
among Hispanics about the disease, and inform them about the resources
available to help people with Alzheimer's and their families."
Representative Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, said, "As a son caring for a mother with Alzheimer's,
I understand firsthand the strain it can be on families because it
not only affects families' lives, jobs, and finances, but also their
mental and physical well-being. Congress must give Alzheimer's disease
its full attention, and develop a national strategy for fighting it.
Unless we invest in Alzheimer research now, the disease will become
a bigger and bigger drain on a health care system that is already
at the breaking point."
Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus Health Task Force, said, "Alzheimer's threatens the future
of Hispanics all across the nation. I urge the Hispanic community
to come together to join the fight against this disease and preserve
the well-being of our families."
Both LULAC and La Raza are members of the Association's Coalition
of Hope, the largest Coalition ever formed to promote awareness of
Alzheimer's disease and support for research. The Coalition has a
membership of more than 200 organizations representing over 50 million
The report was prepared by the Alzheimer's Association and cites a
number of published studies of Alzheimer's disease and Census figures.
It warns that "dementia is a looming but unrecognized public
health crisis in Hispanic/Latino communities in the United States."
Dr. Rafael Lantigua, Director of the Columbia University Center for
Active Life of Minority Elders, said that "in research and practice
our analysis of known or suspected risk factors for Alzheimer's shows
that Hispanics may be at greater risk for the disease in the years
Key Findings from the Report
-- The life expectancy of Hispanics will increase to age 87 by 2050,
surpassing all other ethnic groups in the United States. Age is the
single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. By the middle
of the century, Hispanics will increase as a proportion of the total
elderly population from five percent today to 16 percent.
-- Hispanics have high rates of vascular disease which puts them at
greater risk for developing Alzheimer's. A growing body of evidence
indicates that vascular disease risk factors -- including diabetes
-- may also be risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and stroke-related
dementia. To exacerbate the situation, Hispanics are low users of
medical services and have less health insurance than non-Hispanics,
making it less likely that they will receive the medical services
needed to monitor and control the conditions that may lead to Alzheimer's.
-- Hispanics have the lowest education levels of any group. Research
shows that education may have some protective effects against Alzheimer's.
One in ten Hispanic elders have no formal education.
Over half have eight years of schooling or less.
Impact on Families
The report also emphasizes the burden that Alzheimer's places on families
and communities. As a result of the strong cultural value of family
responsibility in the Hispanic community, family members -- particularly
daughters and other females -- care for relatives with Alzheimer's
for longer periods of time. And as compared to caregivers in other
communities, Hispanic caregivers take care of relatives with higher
levels of impairment.
Alzheimer's Association Issues Call to
The Alzheimer's Association is doing its part to meet the needs of
Hispanics. Its Contact Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days
a week, with Spanish-speaking information specialists and professional
care consultants. The Center is accessible by calling 1-800-272-3900
toll free, or by visiting the Association's Web site at http://www.alz.org
, and directs those inquiring to the Association's nationwide network
of 81 local chapters.
The Association is releasing the report as part of its national campaign
to change the way Americans think about Alzheimer's. As part of this
effort, the Association is asking Americans to "Maintain Your
Brain" -- learn more about what is known about Alzheimer's disease;
understand what America's medical research community has accomplished;
and join the Association in advocating for a renewed commitment to
research and improved care for those with Alzheimer's disease.
For more information about Alzheimer's disease, visit http://www.alz.org
or call 800-272-3900.
© CONTACTO Magazine
Published on May 28, 2004
To Advertise in the Print Edition Click HERE
To Advertise in the Online Edition, Click HERE