It’s no shock that Alzheimer’s diagnoses are expected to rocket upward over the coming decades — but researchers say one group will bear an unfair share of the burden and may be the least prepared to cope.
Latinos are 50% more likely to develop the disease than their white counterparts, according to researchers from the University of Southern California. Between 2012 and 2060, the number of U.S. Latinos living with Alzheimer’s is projected to increase 832%, and to affect more than 3.5 million people.
But experts quoted in an in-depth Chicago Tribune article say that the same group is often less likely to seek formal treatment because of financial (i.e., lack of health insurance) and cultural barriers (language being chief among them).
“This really is a problem,” said David X. Marquez, Ph.D., lead investigator at the Rush University Medical Center. “It’s affecting Latinos a lot. And I’m not sure that people really know it’s the problem that it is.”
Researchers do not fully understand why older Latino and black adults are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Marquez said, though genetics, education, nutrition and stress are all suspected contributors.
And Latino families are unlikely to turn to a nursing home or assisted living facility for support, added Marquez, whose own father has Alzheimer’s.
Marquez’s NIH-funded Latino Core study hopes to understand risk factors and support mechanisms that might be at play in the Latino community. His team has enrolled nearly 200 adults over 30 months. More than 60 participants have agreed to donate their brains for further study after they die.