“Hispanics are one and a half times more likely than the white population to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” said Kellie Butsack, associate director of programs with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter.
According to the National Institute on Aging, Latinos are projected to have the fastest growth in diagnoses of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Centers for Disease Control says there could be 3.5 million Latinos diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia by 2060.
“There’s been a big push to make sure this community does have access,” said Lissette Sarfraz, Latino outreach coordinator for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).
PCA held a virtual workshop on Thursday morning for social workers. The workshop provided information and resources on everything from cultural sensitivity for Hispanic populations to information and opportunities to participate in research.
“This workshop is to help them (social workers) navigate the system with older adults,” said Sarfraz.
Alzheimer’s research advocates say there could be any number of reasons why the diagnosis rate with Latinos is becoming so high. Those reasons include the overall growth in the Hispanic population. Health is also a factor.
“In Latino populations as well as other people of color, we find higher incidents of diabetes and heart disease, which can be a factor in Alzheimer’s,” said Butsack.
She adds that a lack of access to healthcare could also cause the diagnoses to increase in Hispanic communities.
“Discrimination can be a barrier (to health care),” she said.
Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania have been studying the growing number. They participated in the virtual workshop advocating for exercise as a way to fight Alzheimer’s.
Advocates say it’ll take many resources, partnerships and approaches to try to slow the surge of Alzheimer’s in the Latino community.
“There are just so many people we need to reach,” said Butsack.
To access resources on aging and Alzheimer’s disease, visit the webpages for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter ( https://www.alz.org/delval ) and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging ( https://www.pcacares.org )