Latinos and Dementia: Some Differences in How Alzheimer’s Presents

senior Latino woman with dementia hugging caregiver
An important new study reveals differences in symptom progression for Latinos with dementia.

A new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association reveals some unexpected results in how dementia may show differently in Hispanic people. While further exploration of Latinos and dementia is necessary to fully understand whether these differences are due to social/cultural nuances or dementia itself, it is valuable information for Latino families to understand.

Daily Activities

One feature associated with the study was the considerably faster decline in the ability to do everyday activities, including walking, getting dressed, and taking a shower, when compared with other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who directed the study, explained that the cultural commitment to taking care of elderly relations could 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 mentioned. “But there is research showing that when cognition is declining, older people do better when they stay active. And there is also still a stigma. They may not want their elder family member to be seen as ill or mentally unstable.”

Anxiety and Depression

Although we understand that anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate research study of 5,000 individuals revealed a noticeably higher percentage of Hispanic people reporting these issues: more than 25%, compared to nearly 16% and 11% in black non-Hispanic and white participants, respectively. Centering on the mental health of people with dementia is a must. Clinical psychologist Michael Cuccaro explains, “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 necessary to understand these ethnic differences in dementia more clearly, finding minorities to be involved in research is challenging. Latinos currently comprise less than 8% of current dementia scientific research studies – regardless of the fact the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% higher than it is in non-Hispanic whites.

Families interested in current Latino dementia research opportunities can look at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Trial Match page to learn more.

At Midnight Sun Home Care, our care providers are extensively trained and experienced in assisting seniors with their unique difficulties, making life the very best it can be. We make this happen by consulting with each older adult at home before beginning services, helping us develop a customized care plan for dementia. We then diligently monitor the care plan with time, ensuring that needs are always met, both now and as needs change over time.

Whether the need is for just a little help with meals and housework, transportation, and companionship, or if some more specialized dementia care is necessary, Midnight Sun Home Care offers the ideal solution for Alaska senior care. Give us a call at 907-677-7890 to arrange your free in-home consultation for more information.


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