There are more than 5 million people in the United States that are facing the daily struggle of Alzheimer’s disease, with around 400,000 of those people residing in Texas. It’s a disease that has affected a lot of people that we love, and it can be hard to see what happens as Alzheimer’s gets worse and worse over the years. A lot of researchers have been learning more about Alzheimer’s and one of the leading people in the field came to Laredo to discuss the disease.
Dr. Maria Carrillo is the Chief Science Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, and she has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles each year to raise awareness. She visited the University of Texas Health San Antonio Laredo Regional Campus during her visit. Joe Arciniega of the Alzheimer’s Association knew that the perfect person was coming.
“As a noted public speaker, and a darn good one, Dr. Carrillo plays an instrumental role in the association’s efforts to lobby both the public and private sectors for increased funding,” he said. Carrillo hammered home the statement while in Laredo that Hispanics, which make up the large majority of Laredo’s population, are more at risk for Alzheimer’s than others, because of the lack of diagnoses they receive earlier on.
“This is a number that is important, because we have to recognize that there is a lot to unpack underneath an increased risk,” Dr. Carrillo said. “We’re still trying to discover what that increased risk is linked to. The increased risk for Latinos, or Latinx, community, is very specific to an increase in risk factors. This is a number we’re keeping an eye on and trying to understand where it comes from.”
She added that “Some of it could come from the fear of stigma and not wanting to present our loved one to a doctor when having memory problems.” Carrillo knows what that’s like in her family, and had similar struggles. “Ultimately our family chose not to pursue these issues,” of her mother in law and father in law both ignoring signs. “There are visual disturbances sometimes for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia…Sometimes as much as we try to share with our families, they don’t want to recognize it for various reasons that are quite valid.”