Language, Culture Barriers Affect Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Among Hispanics
Language and cultural barriers cause a significant number of elderly Hispanics with Alzheimer's disease to remain undiagnosed and untreated, experts say, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. An estimated 200,000 Hispanics in the U.S. have Alzheimer's disease and the number is expected to grow to 1.3 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, said many Hispanics mistake signs of Alzheimer's for normal symptoms of aging. She added that a lack of health insurance and access to care also contributes to later diagnoses of the disease in Hispanics. Cruz recommends that primary care physicians begin to screen Hispanic patients for dementia at earlier ages, typically around age 55 or 60.
Oscar Lopez, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Neurology, said more aggressive and targeted awareness and treatment efforts could result in more and earlier diagnoses for Hispanics. Cruz said, "This population wants to take care of themselves and wants to do something about their health ... they are just looking for some information and tools on how to do it" (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 8/11).