RESTON, Va. (DC News Now) — According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 6.5 million Americans 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s dementia.
The disease disproportionately affects Hispanics and Latinos but doctors want to change that.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s isn’t easy.
“The emotional part, the physical part, everything in general is is just difficult. But at the end, my sister and I just realized that we want to be with her in this new journey,” said Sarah Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is a caregiver in Reston, Va. for her mother Sara Gonzalez. She splits time with her sister in Mexico caring for their mother.
“In Mexican culture, we don’t accept easily these type of feelings. For us it’s that they are becoming older,” Rodriguez said.
But Alzheimer’s is not a part of getting older. Research shows Hispanics and Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease compared to their white counterparts.
Is there anything specific that that leads Latinos and Hispanics to be more at risk for Alzheimer’s?
“We are currently trying to understand these disparities and we’re trying to understand how risk factors are distributed in the populations,” said Dr. Christian Salazar, epidemiologist with the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairment and Neurological Disorders.
To better understand, Salazar says they need Hispanic and Latino participants in clinical trials for investigational treatments, including the AHEAD Study.
“The AHEAD Study, what it does is it tests whether getting ahead of the symptoms will prevent future memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease,” Salazar said.
It’s now enrolling healthy adults between 55 and 80.
“While Latinos and Hispanics comprise about 20% of the US population less than 1% participate in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s,” Salazar said.
But in order to see if the treatments work for Latinos and Hispanics, they need representation in those trials.
“We need to curb this disease. These treatments are urgently urgently needed,” Salazar said. “So one way to help to contribute to the treatments that sit second is to participate in trials like the AHEAD Study.”
Rodriguez hopes more research can help other families avoid the heartaches she’s facing.
“Always try to be a strong you are not the only one that you are doing this,” Rodriguez said. “We are a lot of us doing this. And we can do it if we support each other.”