Alzheimer's cases on the rise among minorities

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM

At a time when heart disease, breast cancer and prostate cancer deaths are all going down, a new study out today says Alzheimer's cases are on the rise - and the coming epidemic is hitting minorities the hardest.

At age 66, Peggy is living a full life at a retirement facility, but coming to grips with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

"Do I forget my sisters and brothers? I know all of their names, their birthdays - all of that. Do I think I'm going to know that fifteen years from now? I don't know," she said.

She's not alone. A new study shows that Alzheimer's cases are on the rise in this country.

"We really in general attribute the overall increased prevalence of this disease to our longevity ( 55 ). We are living longer and age is the number one risk factor," said Maria Carrillo, Senior Director of Medical and Scientific Relations with the Alzheimer's Association.

The study shows the highest increases in the African-American and Hispanic communities. High blood pressure and diabetes are factors, but this longtime nurse believes minority cases have been underreported.

"But now across the board all groups are seeing their doctors more, so therefore more cases are being reported," said Jacqueline Collins, Kensington Park Retirement Community.

As baby boomers head into their golden years, researchers believe cases will continue to rise.

"If we don't find a cure immediately, the silver tsunami is going to hit us, and every family is going to have a member that's going to have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's," said Randy Allen East, Kensington Park Retirement Community.

Meanwhile, Peggy and countless others living with Alzheimer's are hoping for a cure and doing whatever they can to hold on.

"If you're going to face it, understand that. Do what you can for it. Ripen up your memories. And beyond that, I think you just have to wait," said Peggy.

Researchers say we can reduce the risk of developing dementia by exercising body and mind.

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