CNN News (March 9, 2010): 'Drowning in Alzheimer's': Minorities Struggle With Dementia

Publication Date: 
Tue, 03/09/2010

Francisca Terrazas could not be left alone.

She burned her foot pouring boiling water over an ant hill in her driveway. She would wander for hours searching for aluminum cans. The effects of Alzheimer's disease had taken hold.

Minorities such as Terrazas are at greater risk for the degenerative disease, according to an Alzheimer's Association report released Tuesday. It found that African-Americans are about two times more likely and Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The reasons why minorities are at higher risk are unclear but not believed to be genetic.

The disease is indiscriminately devastating, robbing memories and personality as brain cells deteriorate.

But Alzheimer's for minorities presents unique challenges. Socioeconomic disparities can prevent access to health care, early detection or proper management of other conditions linked to the disease such as high blood pressure or diabetse, said Angela Geiger, the chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer's disease.

"African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely to know they have Alzheimer's and dementia," she said. "That has significant impact on the quality of life."

www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/09/alzheimer.minorities.hispanics/?hpt=C1