William Gonzalez's world collapsed when his wife of more than 50 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago. The 78-year-old Cuban immigrant knew little about the scourge that was gradually robbing his wife of a lifetime of memories.
Today, the Air Force veteran struggles to run his home in Davie, Fla., while serving as sole caretaker for his 74-year-old wife Aida.
In increasing numbers, Hispanics are facing the wrenching prospect of helping a loved one battle the most common form of dementia. The population of elderly Hispanics is projected to grow the fastest of all U.S. racial and ethnic groups in coming years, from just under 3 million in 2008 to 17.5 million in 2050, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
That has Alzheimer's groups pushing to raise awareness among Hispanics who are living longer, into the decades when the risk of Alzheimer's rises dramatically.
The Alzheimer's Association "Know the 10 Signs" workshop in Spanish is being offered at the more than 70 chapters nationwide.
A support group started by The Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders now meets twice monthly in different Chicago locations. In Milwaukee, the Latino Geriatric Center provides screenings for memory loss and support groups.
Complications from Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death for non-Hispanics and 12th -leading cause of death among Hispanics, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.