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Alzheimer's Foundation of America Addresses Needs of Spanish-Speaking Caregivers
Bilingual Educational Materials and Counseling Available

NEW YORK, NY--Olinda Valcarcel of West Palm Beach, FL was concerned when her mother began repeating herself and forgetting where she put things. Valcarcel feverishly researched the symptoms and printed out a wealth of information from the Internet. But when she raised her suspicions with her siblings, she had trouble convincing them that their mother was exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's disease: the information was in English, and her family's primary language is Spanish.

“Reading English is more difficult than speaking the language, and if you have to deal with very technical words and medical terms, it's almost impossible to understand,” said Valcarcel, who shares evening caregiving responsibilities with another sibling.

Now, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) has stepped in to assist Spanish-speaking families by translating an array of content on its Web site and educational brochures into Spanish, and by making available bilingual social workers to provide counseling and resources. This information can by found at or by calling (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-232-8484.

The educational initiative comes at a time when the incidence of Alzheimer's disease among the Hispanic population is projected to skyrocket 600 percent to 1.3 million by 2050 from fewer than 200,000 today. Hispanics face a higher risk of the disease than other ethnic groups.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions. It affects an estimated one in ten Americans aged 65 and older, and nearly one in two aged 85 and older.

“Removing the language barrier will help families better understand what is happening to their loved ones. It is one more way for us to assist caregivers in providing the best possible care,” said Eric J. Hall, AFA's chief executive officer.

AFA's new bilingual materials cover medical issues and daily challenges, including symptoms, treatment options, successful caregiving techniques, wandering, and safeproofing one's home. Bilingual social workers can assist with myriad concerns, such as behavioral challenges, practical issues like feeding and bathing, and care options, and can provide referrals to local support services.

Laura Panizza, program manager at the Greenacres Daycare Center, an AFA member organization in West Palm Beach, FL, expects caregivers to benefit enormously from the availability of information in their native language. In particular, she said, it will help reduce misunderstanding.

“When somebody is not fluent in English, you translate information word by word, and the problem with literal translation is that the meaning is not always the same,” Panizza said.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, based in New York, is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on care issues affecting individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hotline, counseling, educational conferences, a free caregiver magazine, and professional training. For more information, visit or call 866-232-8484.

Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484


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