The report also found that the risk of Alzheimer’s increased as income and education levels decreased—adding that these “characteristics are more common in African Americans and Hispanics than in whites.” Living in a rural area as a child also increases the chances a person will develop Alzheimer’s, but African Americans and Hispanics were not more likely than whites to have lived in rural areas.
Larson said African Americans tend to get Alzheimer’s disease at a younger age, but the disease also tends to be detected later in the course of the illness.
“Interestingly, both African Americans and Hispanics, while they are more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they are less likely to have a formal diagnosis,” Geiger said.
The authors said several factors—the cost of evaluation for the disease, lack of insurance coverage, and a sometimes mistaken fear that a diagnosis will cause health insurance to be canceled or a driver’s license revoked—contribute to the delay in a diagnosis.
An early diagnosis, researchers said, can lead to a better quality of life along with better care and treatment, and can help people plan for the future.
Elizabeth Agnvall is a contributing editor at the AARP Bulletin.