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Dramatic Increase in Latinos with Alzheimer’s Projected, Along with Costs

Researchers are warning of a coming exponential increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease in the Latino population and the economic and health care costs that it will bring.

Barring discovery of an Alzheimer's cure or treatment, the number of U.S. Latinos living with Alzheimer's is projected to grow from 379,000 in 2012 to 1 million by 2030. According to the report called "Latinos & Alzheimer's Disease: New Numbers Behind the Crisis" released Wednesday, by 2060 as many as 3.5 million Latinos are projected to develop Alzheimer's disease, which is a growth of 832 percent.

Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and cognitive skills. Even though Latinos are 50 percent more likely to be afflicted by the disease than non-Hispanic whites, they are less likely to get a diagnosis of it from a physician, according to the report.

Alzheimer's disease: Are we getting closer to a cure? 4:36

“Latino families are increasingly in the cross hairs of this growing public health crisis and are among the least resourced to deal with the financial demand Alzheimer’s places on households and on family caregivers,” said Jason Resendez, a co-author of the report and executive director of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s Network and Coalition.

The report was released Wednesday by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work and LatinosAgainstAlzheimer's

“As the U.S. Latino older adult population grows dramatically over the next 30 years, Alzheimer’s will have far reaching implications for our nation’s healthcare system and economy if nothing is done to curb its devastating effects,” Resendez said.

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The Latino population is younger than any other racial and ethnic group in the country with an average age of 27. However, that means the country will experience a Latino age wave in the future that will create healthcare and economic demands.

In addition, other research suggests Mexican Americans, who make up about 67 percent of the U.S. Latino population, experience earlier onset of conditions that could lead to Alzheimer's.

This is what the numbers in the Alzheimer's report show:

  • Alzheimer's disease among U.S. Latinos would ultimately cost the U.S. economy $373 billion by 2030 and $2.35 trillion (in 2012 dollars) by 2060.

  • Direct costs for Latinos with Alzheimer's, including expenditures for medical and long-term care, are estimated to have been $7 billion in 2012 and projected to more than double in 2030 to $19.6 billion (in 2012 dollars). In 2060, costs will increase to $65.7 billion (in 2012 dollars).
  • Latinos are more likely to turn to more affordable care such as adult day care or informal, unpaid care rather than nursing homes or medical facilities.

The report suggests increasing the enrollment of Latinos in clinical trials to expand research and test treatments. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Latinos are only 1 percent of clinical trial participants in Alzheimer's research.

One such effort is ongoing in Texas where Texas A&M University and Driscoll Children's Hospital are creating a Hispanic health institute to improve the Latinos access to clinical trials.

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