Going to the doctor can be
scary for some. A good doctor-patient relationship is built on
honesty, trust, the ability to spot symptoms, asking questions,
and then diagnosis.
So, it goes with the
diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. But what happens when
families feel doctors aren’t listening to them? Gina
Martinez-Villagomez remembers taking her mother Merida
to the doctor. The family noticed increasing times when she
didn’t recognize her husband, or she would say she had to get
home before her parents got mad at her.
Martinez-Villagomez said the doctor told the family they found
two spots on her mother’s brain and that she probably had a
small stroke. She’s fine, Martinez-Villagomez said she remembers
the doctor saying. “She’s not fine,” Martinez-Villagomez said in
recounting the story. “That’s one thing that made me upset,” she
said. “We know she has Alzheimer’s and you guys are not doing
Her mother died in 2019
with Alzheimer’s disease.
Findings from two national surveys appearing in the Alzheimer’s
Association 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
report reveal that
a third of Hispanic Americans (33%) report having experienced
discrimination when seeking health care.
In addition, half or more of
non-White caregivers say they have experienced discrimination
when navigating health care settings for their care recipient,
with the top concern being that
providers or staff do not listen to what they are saying because
of their race, color or ethnicity.
The Alzheimer’s Association is working to help families get a
diagnosis and have access to the most beneficial caregiver
support available. One of the
Association’s goals is to reach and engage diverse communities
in education, support and other opportunities that are readily
available. All of the Alzheimer’s Association’s services are
free. Anyone can call the Association’s 24/7 Helpline at
800.272.3900 or go to
Ohio Regional Leader of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in
Ohio, the Association is conducting community forums to get more
insight into Ohioans’ experience. “We consistently say go to the
doctor if you are noticing memory issues, but it is imperative
that once people are there that people are diagnosed as early as
possible and get the medical care needed.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is helping to train primary care
physicians to increase the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis
of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia through an
initiative called Project Echo®. Once enrolled,
physicians can present cases and get
coaching from a multidisciplinary clinical team of experts from
around the country.
VanVlymen said current and future health care providers must be
prepared to screen, diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s and dementia
in racially and ethnically diverse older adults because by 2050,
up to 39 percent of this older adult population will be
we are focused on working to understand how we achieve health
equity in dementia because everyone deserves
accurate and timely diagnosis and
effective treatment,” VanVlymen said.
Tips on Getting an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
If you, your parent or spouse is having memory issues, go see a
If it is a parent or spouse, ask if you can attend the doctor’s
Make sure that your loved one has signed paperwork to allow the
doctor to share information with you.
Remember you are the best advocate for your loved one. If you
are not satisfied with what the doctor is saying, keep asking
questions or ask for a second opinion.
Contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at
The Association can help educate you on the stages of the
disease and do a care consultation for you and your loved one.