First I have to apologize for being so late with this interview. I have been back logged with interviews and articles, but promise to get caught up this week! In addition to this interview with Dr Yanira Cruz you will see articles with Dr Joe Hardy with Lumosity, Liz Lucas with Deeply Well and Spa Gabriella, and Jim Kimzey with Tender Rose Home Care who developed the Alzheimer’s Tool Box. Now on with the show…
Interview with Dr Cruz, President and CEO of National Hispanic Council on Aging
by Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks and Senior Lifestyle Trends
Before we begin, I want to remember everyone the holidays are sneaking up on us quickly and it is important to beware of changes occurring with our loved ones and friends who might be struggling with memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Associations 2010 Facts and figures report 5.3 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. The biggest risk factor for the disease is age. The chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65. In addition, nearly 11 million people in the United States, mostly women, care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease in addition to their families.
Dr Yanira Cruz is committed to our Elderly. She is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. She is also associated with Pfizer Inc and Eisai Inc, both Pharmaceutical companies. Our conversation does not revolve around medication therapy, but I do encourage people to consider medication as options when caring for a person with memory loss. Personally I recommend making sure you deal with a Doctor who specializes in memory loss, and not assume your family Dr has a good handle on dementia. My own Mother was on Aricept and I do feel it was extremely helpful in allowing her maintain her independence when combined with her social and living environment.
Well let’s get back to Dr Cruz’s words of wisdom. When I asked Dr Cruz if she had a personal connection to Alzheimer’s disease she said, “No one in my family,” but then went onto stay her friend is Caregiving her Mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dr Cruz has seen through her friend, how much life has changed now that her friend is a Caregiver. Dr Cruz talked about how difficult it was for her friend to get her Mother diagnosed due to a language barrier. The care provider did not have the ability to test her Mother in Spanish. I was shocked and saddened in hearing this issue. I can’t even begin to imagine the added frustration to an extremely stressful situation this was for their family.
We discussed how aging and illness is wrapped in fear in our society. From the natural aging process, to formal diagnoses, to confiding the outcomes to others be it friends or family. The fear of judgment by others or being pushed away or seen as a burden is heavy. Many other countries honor their Elderly and do not have the issues we seem to have here in the United States.
Dr Cruz understands the importance of education to break these societal barriers. She is a true advocate for Public Awareness, educating people on the signs and symptoms along with who might be at risks for Alzheimer’s disease. She believes by increasing societies understanding of the disease we can reduce fear, frustration, and destructive behaviors created by the unknown.
Dr Cruz and I also chatted about how families are usually pretty good about noticing change, but not always so good at accepting the change. In order to move forward and get a plan in place, that second step is a critical one. ACCEPT THE CHANGE! The sooner a diagnosis is found, the sooner a regime can be put in place to assist both the patient and the caregiver.
Please remember you are never in this alone. Alzheimer’s disease is like a pebble being thrown into the water. It’s impossible not to have a ripple effect on others. Share, talk, and be honest. Laugh, cry, and feel your emotions so you can move through them. There is a lesson in ever step of this disease if you are willing to take the time to look for it. Personally, my Mother’s Alzheimer’s disease has been a gift to me in many ways. It could be for you too if you are willing to look for the positive moments before you and not just focus on change and loss.
For more information on:
|Yanira Cruz, DrPH
President & CEO
National Hispanic Council on Aging
|Dr. Yanira Cruz is the President & CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). She also currently serves on the boards of the National Center for Behavioral Health Solutions and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Dr. Cruz has been appointed to serve on the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education (APME), which advises the Secretary of DHHS and the Administrator of CMS on opportunities to enhance the federal government’s effectiveness in implementing a national Medicare education program. She also holds an adjunct faculty appointment at The George Washington University School of Public Health. Before joining NHCOA, she served as executive director and chief operating officer of the Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) in Washington. She joined HSHPS after serving as director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) where she led numerous public health programs to improve the health status of Latinos nationwide. Dr. Cruz received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in global health from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Her primary focus is to provide a Hispanic perspective on public health and older adult issues, to increase policy-maker and public understanding of Hispanic needs, and to encourage the adoption of programs and policies that equitably serve Hispanics
The National Hispanic council on Aging