Latinos & Alzheimer’s: Empowering Communities Through Culture
The names of friends and family members become harder to remember. You might forget how to tie your shoes or have difficulty dressing in the morning. You might find yourself lost in places that you have known your entire life or be confused by what day of the week it is. These are some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s, a progressive brain disease impacting millions of Americans — and hitting women and communities of color especially hard.
In fact, Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or a related dementia than non-Latino whites, and a report from LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s and the USC Roybal Institute on Aging projects the number of Latinos living with Alzheimer’s will grow 830 percent by 2060. But despite this increased prevalence, Latinos are less likely to recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and less likely to receive a diagnosis from a physician. As a result, Latino families touched by Alzheimer’s often struggle in the shadows without access to caregiver support, quality care, and cutting-edge research options.
Thankfully organizations like Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles (ALZGLA) are developing culturally tailored services and outreach efforts to empower and support Latino families on their journeys with Alzheimer’s. As a member of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s Coalition, convened by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, ALZGLA is part of a national effort to address the growing impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia on Latino families. From catalyzing community-centered research collaborations in Kansas City with the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation to supporting the fantastic work of ALZGLA, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s is focused on developing Alzheimer’s solutions that work for all communities.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), ALZGLA will present a series of “edutainment” initiatives to reach Latino families online and in their communities through cultural performance, including a one-man play and a telenovela.
The telenovela, Lost Memories, follows one family’s journey with Alzheimer’s, from recognizing symptoms to learning about clinical trial options and navigating available services. The four part series, available in English and Spanish, will premiere on September 19th and continue on September 26, October 3rd, and October 10th (trailers below).
Additionally, Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles is premiering El Cuidador on September 23, a one-man show produced and presented by Mexican actor Sergio Ochoa, Jr. in memory of his late mother who died of Alzheimer’s in May 2016. The play, co-sponsored by LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s, will address culturally sensitive topics like acknowledging a diagnosis publicly, asking for help, and taking loved ones out of the home when skilled care is required.
These bold and inclusive efforts by ALZGLA represent the type of strategies that government, industry, and philanthropic stakeholders must promote and scale if we want to make good on our national goal of curing or effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.
Jason Resendez is Executive Director of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s Coalition, convened by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jason_r_DC.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.