Hispanic Legislator/Activist Polly Baca Puts Focus on Alzheimer’s

As a child growing up in Northern Colorado, Polly Baca was motivated by the discrimination she experienced as a Coloradan of Mexican descent and used it to fuel her career in politics. It inspired her to become the first minority woman elected to the Colorado Senate, the first Hispanic woman to serve in leadership in any state senate, and the first Latina to co-chair a Democratic National Convention. She also served in the White House under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.

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Today, Baca is working to overcome another inequity: the higher risk that Hispanics face from the only leading disease for which there is no prevention, treatment or cure: Alzheimer’s.

Baca watched her own mother’s health decline after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She observed how the disease affected her mother’s behavior, and required around-the-clock care. Sharing that experience with her daughter, Monica, who provided live-in care for her grandmother and Polly’s mother, has helped fuel Baca’s commitment to Alzheimer’s research and care.

Baca and her family members face the reality that Hispanics are 50 percent more likely than whites to develop Alzheimer’s. Higher rates of cardiovascular disease combined with diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol create greater risk for Alzheimer’s and stroke-related dementia. When combined with longer projected lifespans for Hispanics, the risk for dementia is significant.

“I realize that as a woman and a Hispanic, I face a greater risk of Alzheimer’s than the average person,” said Baca, reflecting on statistics showing that nearly two-thirds of people diagnosed with dementia in the United States are women. “My daughter and my sisters and many other Hispanic women share these risk factors.”

For those reasons, Baca is doing more than merely working to raise awareness of the disease. She has volunteered to participate in Alzheimer’s research.

“With my family history, that is one proactive step I can take,” she said.

The Alzheimer’s Association is conducting clinical trials at hundreds of locations around the country, involving people with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, caregivers and healthy volunteers through the free TrialMatch program.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s research, go to www.alz.org or call the Alzheimer’s Association free 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900

One thought on “Hispanic Legislator/Activist Polly Baca Puts Focus on Alzheimer’s

  1. The most promising protocol for treating Alzheimer’s has been compiled by Dr. Dale Bredesen in his book “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline”. (http://a.co/cd7V7Lv) Dr Bredensen is training and certifying providers around the country in his protocol. Dr Hopp at TLC The Littleton Clinic is certified and is currently offering a program based on the Bredesen protocol. Visit the TLC website to learn more: http://thelittletonclinic.com/reversing-cognitive-decline/

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