Study Shows Latino Families Impacted by Dementia Need to Watch for Unique Signs

Grandmother hugging her granddaughter at home
The Hispanic population may experience significantly faster decline in independence with everyday tasks when impacted by dementia.

A new study sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is revealing some surprising results in how dementia may present differently in Hispanics. While further exploration is needed to fully understand whether these differences are the result of social/cultural nuances or the dementia itself, it’s important information for Latino families impacted by dementia to know.

Activities of Daily Living

One highlight of the study was the significantly faster decline in the ability to perform everyday activities, such as getting dressed, walking, and taking a shower, compared to other ethnicities. Andrea Ochoa Lopez, the University of Houston doctoral student who conducted the study, explained that the cultural devotion to caring for elderly family members 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 stated. “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.”

Anxiety and Depression

While we know that anxiety and depression are risk factors for dementia, a separate study of 5,000 individuals showed a markedly higher percentage of Hispanics reporting these concerns: more than 25%, compared to about 16% and 11% in black and non-Hispanic Caucasian participants, respectively. Focusing on the mental health of those with dementia is crucial. 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.”

While more diverse research is needed to better understand these ethnic differences in dementia, finding minorities to participate in studies has been a challenge. Latinos currently comprise less than 8% of current dementia research studies – in spite of the fact that the prevalence of dementia in Latinos is as much as 50% higher than it is in non-Hispanic Caucasian participants.

Families interested in current Latino dementia research opportunities can visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch page for more information. 

At Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, caregivers are fully trained and experienced in helping Latino families impacted by dementia with whatever their unique challenges are, preserving the highest quality of life possible. We accomplish this by consulting with each senior at home prior to the start of services, allowing us to develop a customized plan of care. Then we carefully monitor the care plan over time to ensure that needs are always fully met, adapting  as needs change over time.

If the need is for just a little help with housework and meals, companionship, and transportation, or if more specialized dementia care is required, Home Sweet Home In-Home Care can offer the ideal customized solution. Call us at (269) 373-5444 to arrange for your free in-home consultation to learn more about options for dementia care in Battle Creek, MI and surrounding areas.

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