Recent data from the Alzheimer’s Association shows that the number of Latinos suffering from the disease is predicted to increase by 600 percent by the year 2050. While the life expectancy for Latinos exceeds other U.S. ethnic groups (a phenomenon known as the Hispanic paradox), the ethnicity has also been found to develop Alzheimer’s and other memory problems nearly ten years before other ethnic groups in America, according to a study led by Dr. Sid O’Bryant of the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Why is this?
According to Dr. O’Bryant, there are several key factors in why Latinos are increasingly more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s:
– The Alzheimer’s Association’s research Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures 2010 reveals that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease is 1.5 times greater for Latinos than for non-Latino white Americans. The research found evidence indicating that conditions like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. According to news publication Voxxi, scientists are finding new evidence that could directly connect type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s. Each one of these risk factors are prevalent in Latinos.
– There is a greater rate of Latinos versus white non-Latinos suffering from Alzheimer’s in the United States, but there is also greater probability for Latinos to receive a non-specific or incorrect diagnosis for the disease as well. The lack of sufficient healthcare coverage for the population leads to fewer confirmed cases and lack of critical care.
– Finally, Latinos have been found to be at greater risk of developing the disease and other types of Dementia due to the fact that they have statistically been found to live longer, while at the same time, they have higher rates of cardiovascular problems, which is also a risk factor of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Read more about Hispanic health in America.
O’Bryant explained to the newspaper La Opinion that hispanics show a prevalence of having memory problems, including Alzheimer’s, in similar levels to the rest of the U.S. population. The alarming observation, however, is that these memory problems begin long before other ethnic groups. The cultural, economic and gastronomical reality of many Latin homes, says O’Bryan, includes unhealthy, high-fat food consumption that increases the risk of the disease through obesity and diabetes. However, he adds, “the factors that contribute to these memory problems can be different, therefore, the treatments to attack these problems would also have to be different.”
10 Alzheimer’s warning signs
Alzheimer’s is a cerebral disease that causes major issues with a patient’s memory, cognition, and behavior. The disease represents 60 to 80 percent of the cases of Dementia in the country, and nowadays it is estimated that 5.4 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. Among the many symptoms of Alzheimer’s, most patients experience severe loss of memory that affects their daily lives and activities.
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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 clear warning signs that an individual has Alzheimer’s:
– Memory changes that greatly impact daily life. This presents in a number of ways, from short-term and long-term memory loss, to the heavy use of memory-enhancing products, such as post-it notes.
– Difficulty in planning and problem solving.
– Difficulty in carrying out habitual tasks, such as completing simple chores or conforming to habitual behaviors that were previously not a problem.
– Disorientation of time or place, which can mean forgetting the day of the week, or where they are.
– Loss of understanding how objects interrelate and other visual image perception loss.
– Loss of writing and conversational/communication skills.
– Repositioning of objects in new locales.
– A loss of rational judgement.
– Loss of initiative to take part in social activities that were previously enjoyed.
– Changes in humor or personality. An Alzheimer’s sufferer might be confused, depressed, afraid or anxious. He or she may become easily irritated at home or at places where he or she feels insecure outside of a regular routine.
To be sure, all of these symptoms are prevalent in the vast majority of Alzheimer’s cases across a wide spectrum of ethnicities. However, given the fact that the Latino community often presents with the disease some ten years before other ethnic groups, it is important for friends and facility members to stay alert at an earlier age with aging individuals to try and detect the early onset of the disease if possible.