The Rio Grande Valley is at the epicenter of an Alzheimer’s spike among Latinos and is now the focus of new research efforts
Editor Notes

In the United States, the older population (65 years and older) is rapidly growing. With advanced age being a key risk factor for developing dementia-related diseases, the number of individuals with dementia-related diseases is expected to increase in the upcoming decades. Racial and ethnic disparities exist in the prevalence, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases with African American and Hispanic people being more likely to have dementia-related diseases. 

What accounts for these disparities and how do we address them?

In an article in The Texas Tribune, researchers are interested in these questions and particularly why aging Latino people in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley are seeing a significant rise in dementia-related diseases.

“There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and scientists don’t fully understand what causes this devastating form of dementia. But research shows that poor access to health care, lack of education, air pollution and other social and environmental factors leave people more vulnerable to the disease. All these factors converge in the four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley, a mostly rural, majority-Latino region where the infrastructure, education and health care systems suffer from decades of neglect. Medicare data shows that people here who are 65 and older are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as people in that age group in most other parts of the country, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.” 

The projected rise in people with dementia-related diseases has sparked an interest in research on this issue. Because of existing disparities, understanding the risk factors for these diseases in Latino communities is increasingly important. This may help us grasp the role that social factors such as culture and socioeconomic status play. Addressing these issues will take time and a commitment to increased funding for research and services in these communities. 

A stretch of South Texas is struggling with a crisis many parts of the nation could someday face: Cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are climbing, and the state’s response has been uneven at best.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and scientists don’t fully understand what causes this devastating form of dementia. But research shows that poor access to health care, lack of education, air pollution and other social and environmental factors leave people more vulnerable to the disease.

All these factors converge in the four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley, a mostly rural, majority-Latino region where the infrastructure, education and health care systems suffer from decades of neglect. Medicare data shows that people here who are 65 and older are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as people in that age group in most other parts of the country, according to...

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