LatinaLista — When it comes to certain topics in the Latino community, there are several, to this day, that remain “taboo.” In other words, we don’t like talking about them because we feel otra gente (other people) will think less of us or we find them too uncomfortable.
The list of issues include: sex, AIDS and, surprisingly, Alzheimer’s.
Medical researchers are saying that they expect to see a 600-percent increase in Alzheimer’s cases among the Latino population by 2050.
The researchers cite the rise in diabetes, a lack of health care, having a higher percentage of the risk factors for vascular disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and the habit of most families keeping quiet about the disease in a loved one or not recognizing it until it’s too late as the major causes for the rise in Alzheimer’s in the Latino community.
The really sad thing is that because a person afflicted with Alzheimer’s is not a comfortable situation for their friends, the friends stop visiting. As one daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient said, “To me, this is the new leprosy, like the leprosy of the 21st Century. People, as soon as they know somebody has Alzheimer’s, they stay away.”
Yet, researchers are saying that the Latino community’s behavior of avoiding the hard issues is what makes early diagnosis so difficult to achieve. It’s known that the earlier Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.
“So what has happened is that the Hispanic community is now eight times more at risk,” Dr. Adrianna Strutt of Baylor Neuropsychology said.
Strutt is trying to turn those numbers around by studying current Alzheimer’s tests and coming up with new ones designed specifically for Latinos and Spanish-speakers.
“At least with this research, what we are trying to do is get rid of all those extra factors that could be clouding the results,” Strutt said.
Strutt said traditional tests don’t always catch Alzheimer’s early enough in the Latino community.
It’s yet another example of while we may strive to be a colorblind society, there are some areas where we have to focus on our differences.