Alzheimer’s Association Expands Free Support to Latino Communities

Santa Barbara County Promotores Network title=
Alzheimer’s Association Expands Free Support to Latino Communities
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Source: Alzheimer's Association

The California Central Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association continues to offer free educational webinars taught in Spanish, in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Promotores Network.

The Chapter’s Spanish programs have been funded through grants ever since the start of the partnership over five years ago, and since then, 22 promotores in Santa Barbara County have been trained to teach Alzheimer’s Association classes in Spanish. More recently, the Chapter secured grant funding to expand partnerships throughout the Central Coast: with Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo County in July 2020 and Promotoras y Promotores Foundation for Ventura County in October 2020.

Since the switch to virtual platforms at the start of the pandemic last year, all the programs offered through the California Central Coast Chapter have been able to reach more people, without the geographical restrictions that come with meeting in-person. The virtual Spanish classes taught by promotores in all three counties of the California Central Coast Chapter are currently being offered to everyone in the region.

As noted in the Alzheimer’s Association 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report (released March 2), health and socioeconomic disparities and systemic racism contribute to increased Alzheimer’s and dementia risk in communities of color. According to the report, older Blacks and Hispanics are also disproportionately more likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In addition, both groups are more likely to have missed diagnoses than older whites.

Due to the large Latino population within its region, the California Central Coast Chapter has made it a priority to reach these communities and spread awareness about its resources. Since the switch to virtual platforms at the start of the pandemic last year, all the programs offered through the California Central Coast Chapter have been able to reach more people, without the geographical restrictions that come with meeting in-person. The virtual Spanish classes taught by promotores in all three counties of the California Central Coast Chapter are currently being offered to everyone in the region.

“While it may be complex in many ways, Alzheimer’s disease is not a hopeless cause,” said Kathryn Cherkas, MIPH, director of programs for the Alzheimer’s Association Central Coast Chapter. “There is so much we can do to support those affected by this disease and get that support to minority communities; however, it has been a historical challenge. Our partnership with the promotores is one of the many concerted efforts we are making to support diverse communities, and we invite all members of the public to help inform and invigorate our work.”

Included in the 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures is a special report,“Race, Ethnicity and Alzheimer’s in America,” which finds that non-White racial/ethnic populations expect and experiene more barriers when accessing dementia care, have less trust in medical research and are less confident that they have access to health professionals who understand their ethnic and racial background and experiences.

In particular, two-thirds of Black Americans (66%) believe it is harder for them to get excellent care for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Likewise, 2 in 5 Native Americans (40%) and Hispanic Americans (39%) believe their own race or ethnicity makes it harder to get care, as do one-third of Asian Americans (34%).

“Despite ongoing efforts to address health and health care disparities in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, survey results show there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Carl V. Hill, Ph.D., MPH. chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “Clearly, discrimination, lack of diversity among health care professionals and mistrust in medical research create significant barriers to care and demand the country’s full attention.”

The 2021 Facts and Figures report also shows the latest statistics and information on Alzheimer’s prevalence, incidence, mortality and cost of care in California and nationally, as well as statewide deaths attributable to Alzheimer’s and dementia spike during COVID-19.

New disease-related statistics for California revealed the following:
● Number of California residents aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s: 690,000
● Estimated number of California residents living with Alzheimer’s in 2025: 840,000
● Percentage change (between 2020 and 2025): 21.7%
● Statewide deaths from Alzheimer’s disease (2019): 16,859
● Number of California residents serving as unpaid family caregivers: 1.12 million
● Total hours of unpaid care provided: 884 million
● Total value of unpaid care: $18.126 billion

In California there were 4,643 more deaths from Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2020 than compared to averages over the past five years – an 18.8% increase. The report highlights preliminary and anecdotal data indicating the COVID-19 pandemic is also having adverse effects on many family caregivers. It notes that pandemic-related caregiving challenges, including the shutdown of adult day care centers and the inability of families to visit or communicate with relatives in long-term care settings have caused “emotional distress and other negative outcomes among caregivers.”

The California Central Coast Chapter is committed to supporting caregivers and all those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia in the community. Its free support groups and education classes, both in English and Spanish, continue to remain virtual and can be found online: www.alz.org/cacentralcoast/helping_you.

The 24/7 Helpline is available at 800.272.3900 with free, confidential support from specialists and master’s-level clinicians, in over 200 languages.

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