July 19, 2021 by
A new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is uncovering some surprising results in Latinos with dementia. While further investigation is needed to completely understand whether these differences are the outcome of social/cultural nuances or perhaps the dementia itself, it’s valuable information for Latino families to learn.
Activities of Daily Living
One highlight of the research was the considerably faster decline in the capability to perform everyday activities, including walking, getting dressed, and taking a shower, in comparison to other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who carried out the study, explained that the cultural dedication to caring for older family may be a contributing factor.
“Some families want to start doing everything for their older members to try and remove some of the burdens and make their lives easier,” she said. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people actually do better when they stay active. And there is also still stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”
Depression and Anxiety
Although we understand depression and anxiety are risk factors for dementia, a different research study of 5,000 people showed a significantly higher percentage of Hispanic individuals reporting these issues: a lot more than 25%, as compared to about 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic white participants, respectively. Focusing on the mental health of Latinos with dementia is a must. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro states, “We have lots of great evidence that medications and talk therapy help, but minorities have the lowest rate of getting this help.”
Although more diverse studies are required to better comprehend these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to take part in scientific studies is a challenge. Latinos currently comprise fewer than 8% of current dementia scientific studies – regardless of the reality that the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50 percent greater than it is in non-Hispanic whites.
Families thinking about current Latino dementia research opportunities can go to the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch website to find out more.
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