The Times reports:
Studies suggest that many Hispanics may have more risk factors for developing dementia than other groups, and a significant number appear to be getting Alzheimer’s earlier. And surveys indicate that Latinos, less likely to see doctors because of financial and language barriers, more often mistake dementia symptoms for normal aging, delaying diagnosis.
“This is the tip of the iceberg of a huge public health challenge,” said Yanira L. Cruz, president of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. “We really need to do more research in this population to really understand why is it that we’re developing these conditions much earlier.”
It is not that Hispanics are more genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, say experts, who say the diversity of ethnicities that make up Hispanics or Latinos make a genetic explanation unlikely.
Rather, experts say several factors, many linked to low income or cultural dislocation, may put Hispanics at greater risk for dementia, including higher rates of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke and possibly hypertension.
Less education may make Hispanic immigrants more vulnerable to those medical conditions and to dementia because scientists say education may increase the brain’s plasticity or ability to compensate for symptoms. And some researchers cite as risk factors stress from financial hardship or cultural adjustment.
To read more, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/us/21alzheimers.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
People of Hispanic descent will make up at least one-third of this nation's population by the year 2050. They will represent a most integral part of our workforce, electorate, economic buying power and taxpayer base.
Tonight's story demands action now in national research laboratories, Congress and in communities to meet this national health crisis.