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Latinos in Chicago and Suburbs Face Alarming Numbers of Cases of Alzheimer's Disease While Thousands More are at Risk of Being Diagnosed
Date:5/6/2009

The growing number of Hispanic/Latinos with Alzheimer's and memory loss motivates the birth of a new initiative to address a comprehensive action plan

CHICAGO, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In Chicagoland alone, more than 135,000 Latinos currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other memory loss conditions while 320,894 are at high risk of being diagnosed. However, two out of three Hispanic households don't have at least one caregiver with the responsibility of caring for a family member with Alzheimer's or other serious illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity, according to a study published by the Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving. Many caregivers face obstacles to seek help and available services due to linguistic, cultural, and health literacy barriers.

To raise awareness and announce an action plan to address this issue, a group of health professionals and other community leaders met at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology on May 6 to formally launch the Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance (LAMDA).

Part of LAMDA's mission is to educate and empower the Latino caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and memory disorders by providing adequate skills training to health providers and compassionate support programs for families. Another important alliance component is an emphasis on the social-cultural context as well as emotional and physical consequences of Latino caregivers when they are not provided with the necessary resources and support.

"It is heartbreaking and disturbing to see families struggling with their loved ones with Alzheimer's and realize that there are no alternatives available or acculturated programs to serve the Latino community," says Constantina Mizis, President and CEO of LAMDA. "We need to address these concerns now and work collectively toward a goal to make a difference in the lives of so many families and let them know that they are not alone."

Mizis used the forum to outline a four-point Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance Action Plan:

  1. In partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, implement educational and support programs to increase the skills knowledge and confidence of caregivers of Hispanic/Latinos living with dementia.
  2. Conduct trainings in quality dementia care and cultural competency for community-based health and social service providers.
  3. Provide information and referrals to help Latino families make informed decisions about their services and long-term care options, while facilitating access to services.
  4. Increase access to home- and community-based care services by training "Care Advocates," Latino paraprofessionals who conduct outreach, arrange respite care, facilitate support groups, and assist families to better understand available service options. Care advocates also will help families apply for these services, conduct family education programs, and serve as a recognized community dementia resource.

Members of the Alliance who spoke at the forum include: Luisa Echevarria, community relations director, Univision and Telefutura Chicago; Dr. Virginia Quinonez, chair, The Chicago School Department of Clinical Counseling, and representative of the school's Center for Latino Mental Health; Constantina Mizis, president and CEO, Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance; Perla Castro, local community member who will reflect on the challenges of caring for her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 50; Dr. Aida Giachello, associate professor and director, Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center, UIC. Other attendees include Debra G. Wesley-Freeman, president and CEO, Sinai Community Institute, and other leaders of the Latino Community.

For more information about LAMDA, visit www.memoryalliance.org.

    MEDIA CONTACTS:
    Constantina Mizis (708) 337.4131
    Constantina.Mizis@memoryalliance.org
    Matt Nehmer (312) 329.6672
    Mnehmer@thechicagoschool.edu


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SOURCE Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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