UCC Memory Clinic detecting early signs of Alzheimer's, dementia and bridging gap in Milwaukee's Latino community

NOW: UCC Memory Clinic detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s, dementia and bridging gap in Milwaukee’s Latino community

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The United Community Center (UCC) serves the Latino community of Milwaukee in a number of ways, but a big distinction is the way they serve Latinos who may be showing early signs of dementia and Alzheimer's. UCC provides one of the only Spanish-speaking memory clinics in southeastern Wisconsin.

The UCC Memory Clinic has helped Latino families in the community detect Alzheimer's or dementia early by providing free initial memory and cognitive screenings and most importantly, offering support to families during a difficult process.

"Hispanics are one and a half times more likely than our white counterparts to develop Alzheimer's disease," said Ana Bernal, a nurse from the UCC Memory Clinic.

Bernal says Latinos develop symptoms any time from seven to 10 years earlier than Caucasians. In addition, Bernal says there is a lot of stigma in the Latino community surrounding Alzheimer's and dementia.

"We want to bridge that gap, where people find a normal part of aging to Alzheimer's disease, when there's really concerns with memory and cognition and behavior," said Bernal.

Bernal says exams done at other places are in English only and at a level of education that is higher than what their patients usually have. Although having an interpreter can be an option for patients, sometimes what is said can get lost in translation.

"We are here to educate the community and to be able to bridge the gap between Alzheimer's and the Latino community by providing services in Spanish," said Bernal.

Adriana Gutierrez brought her mom, Norma, to the memory clinic when she started noticing changes in her mom. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and passed away last November. Gutierrez says she is grateful for the help and support the clinic gave her.

Gutierrez says she and her mom felt relief at the clinic, knowing they had someone to communicate with them in their language to answer all the questions they had. They received education on treatments to help her mom once she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Besides the memory clinic, UCC also has a senior center for older adults to do activities together and an adult day care.

"The adult day center provides care for people that have been diagnosed with dementia or they have cognitive problems, etc., so they'll come here and do activities," said Vanessa Anciani, a social worker for UCC Memory Clinic.

Gutierrez and others say they found a community of support at UCC and are grateful it is part of the Latino community in Southeastern Wisconsin.

To learn more about the clinic and other services at UCC,  click here.

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