Examinnig Alzheimer's Disease Care Among Hispanics

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Grand Rapids Press on Tuesday examined the "cultural tightrope" faced by some Hispanics who seek long-term care for a family member with Alzheimer's disease.

An estimated 200,000 Hispanics in the U.S. have Alzheimer's, and the number is expected to increase to 1.3 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Experts contend that many elderly Hispanics do not receive treatment for the disease or are undiagnosed because of language and cultural barriers. Hispanics also typically prolong seeing a doctor after symptoms emerge, sometimes as long as three years, according to the Press. The group also commonly associates symptoms such as memory loss with normal signs of aging.


Karen Rigueiro, a multicultural coordinator at Holland Hospital in Michigan, said religion and a lack of education also are barriers. Rigueiro added that Hispanics "do not ask other people for help," adding, "It's just what your family knows, and you keep it a secret and don't give that information to strangers, even health care providers." Admitting a relative into a long-term care facility is "shrouded in shame, an admission [that families] failed to properly care for their own," the Press reports.

Kevin Foley, of Saint Mary's Health Care's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Program, said that more aggressive public awareness campaigns that specifically target Hispanics would help more Hispanics receive diagnosed and treatment (Kopenkoskey, Grand Rapids Press, 9/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.