Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota launches health initiatives during National Hispanic Heritage Month

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The Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota is launching a series of presentations along with care and support activities during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

It’s part of a national initiative to address the under-recognized Alzheimer’s and dementia health crisis in Latino communities.

Selim Almeida, who is caring for his 88-year-old mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, said, "The toughest part hasn’t been physical, it has been more mental, more emotional because at those times it’s like the saying goes — that when you lose somebody, you know what you really had — so in that sense what I lost is the essence, kind of the soul of a person."

Alejandro Diez is a social worker with Alzheimer’s Association Of Minnesota-North Dakota. Diez helps with Hispanic-Latino outreach and education and was one of the first people to help guide Almeida.

“Within our community, there has been a lot of stigma about Alzheimer’s or dementia, thinking, ‘Well, is there something wrong with grandma or there is something wrong with grandpa?’ And these are not regular signs of aging, Alzheimer’s and dementia is something different, so for people to understand and know what it is, and what it is not,” Diez said.

The Alzheimer’s Association said Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia than non-Latino whites.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, the association is raising awareness and unveiling new educational classes to help address disparities in Alzheimer’s diagnoses and treatments in its communities — including topics such as genetic predictors, the stages of the disease and current research, offering hope and supporting families like Almeida’s.

“I’m trying to maintain and to get to enjoy at least the few moments and years and days, however, God is going to keep us alive, that we can enjoy it and try to rescue some of that relationship that you may have had in the past,” Almeida said.

To register for the upcoming English or Spanish-speaking Alzheimer’s presentations, to learn more about one-on-one help and support groups or The Walk To End Alzheimer’s, and for the 24-7 helpline, visit this website.

Additionally, The Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota is looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers.