According to the Alzheimer's Association, 14% of Hispanic people 65 and older have Alzheimer's dementia, compared to 10% of White older adults.
CNN  — 

Older Hispanic adults in the US are about one and a half times more likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias than their White peers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual special report.

The report, released this spring, said 14% of Hispanic people 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia, compared with 10% of White older adults. For older Black Americans, the incidence – 19% – is nearly double that of their White counterparts.

“Race does not have a genetic basis, and genetic factors do not account for the large differences in prevalence and incidence among racial groups,” the association said in the report.

Instead, the research found discrimination and structural racism, which can affect laws, access to health care and quality of education, most likely contribute to the disparities in people of color.

“The cumulative stress imparted by the effects of structural racism and the resulting differences in social and physical environment may directly influence dementia risk,” the report’s authors stated.

The report estimated the number of people age 65 and older in the US with Alzheimer’s dementia by analyzing data from the US Census Bureau’s 2023 population projections and the Chicago Health and Aging Project study, a population-based study of chronic health conditions of older people.

Rebecca Edelmayer, senior director for scientific engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association, said for Hispanic people in particular, the elevated risk of Alzheimer’s potentially points to a combination of socioeconomic factors and a high prevalence of health conditions.

Health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease “are believed to explain much of the elevated risk of dementia among Black and Hispanic populations,” according to the report.

In response to the various barriers facing the diverse Hispanic population, the Alzheimer’s Association launched a public service campaign in August called “Some Things Come with Age.” The campaign highlights the warning signs of various types of dementia in both Spanish and English.

Access to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is challenging for Hispanic people in the US, Edelmayer said, because early signs of cognitive change can often go unnoticed or undiscussed within communities.

Oftentimes, she said, it’s not until a crisis or emergency strikes that a person obtains a diagnosis.

To improve detection and health outcomes among one of the fastest-growing groups in the United States, Edelmayer said the association sponsors numerous studies worldwide and provides education in local communities.

“Addressing some of these key issues and continuing to do a lot of research around the Hispanic population is going to be important to drive down that risk in these groups,” she said.