A warning light has lit up after a recent study revealed two realities that are imminent; the first is the rapid increase of Alzheimer’s disease within the Latino population, and the second is the impact that this may have on the economy of the United States.
A publication titled “Latinos & Alzheimer’s Disease: New Numbers Behind the Crisis,” released by the University of Southern California (USC) Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work and Latinos Against Alzheimer, projected that the number of Latinos living with Alzheimer’s will increase from 379,000 in 2012 to 1.1 million by 2030 and to 3.5 million by 2060, which means an increase of 832 percent.
“It is not only the growth of the prevalence that is concerning. It is also the very high metabolic syndrome and diabetes rates that are fueling the increase in Alzheimer’s to levels well beyond expected rates in the U.S. population,” said William Vega, co-author of the report and executive director of the USC Roybal Institute on Aging.
Therefore, per the report findings, “cumulative direct and indirect costs for Latinos with Alzheimer’s disease will cost the U.S. economy $373 billion by 2030 and $2.35 trillion (in 2012 dollars) by 2060,” resulting in what many call a crisis in the nation’s public health.
And it is a crisis because the direct cost includes long-term medical care expenses, while indirect costs include the unpaid salaries to informal caregivers and the revenue lost by people with Alzheimer’s disease. Although it is more likely that Latinos will seek more affordable medical care options, the total cost will exceed the cost for the non-Latino whites.
According to Shnyi Wu, co-author of the report and a scientist at the Roybal Institute on Aging, “due to demographic and family-structure shifts among Latinos, there will be a lower ratio of younger generations able to take care of older generations living with Alzheimer’s, placing significant societal and economic stress on Latinos.”
Another reality that emphasizes the study is the need to cope with the inequality in health care affecting Latinos. Due to the advanced age and socio-economic determinants, they have more than a 50 percent probability of suffering the disease more than the non-Latino whites, but they are less likely to receive medical diagnoses.
Therefore, Hispanic participation in clinical tests that focus on the treatment and prevention is just about one percent.
The goal of the study is to ensure that the nation is ready to face these disparities, and for that, it proposes to focus on the urgent need to invest in research, health education, and clinical tests for the Latin community.
Solutions for immediate action recommended
• Increase research funding for Alzheimer’s to at least $2 billion annually.
• Improve access to caregiver resources and informal training for caregivers in multiple languages.
• Grow the enrollment of Latinos in clinical trials by developing recruitment strategies and trial designs that better reflect the demographic heterogeneity, social needs and economic
realities of Latino communities.
• Recruit and train a more diverse health care provider workforce to address low diagnosis rates and improve treatment and care of
Latinos living with Alzheimer’s.
• Advocate for federal- and state-based action plans and goals for eliminating disparities in Alzheimer’s diagnosis, care and research participation rates.
Report: “Latinos & Alzheimer’s Disease: New Numbers Behind the Crisis”.
Haz clic para leer en Español: Según estudios Aumentará el Alzheimer en los Latinos