MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The United Community Center (UCC) serves Milwaukee’s Latino community in many ways, but one big distinction is how they serve Latinos who may be showing early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. UCC offers one of the only Spanish-speaking memory clinics in southeastern Wisconsin.
The UCC Memory Clinic has helped Latin American families in the community detect Alzheimer’s disease or dementia early by providing free initial memory and cognition screenings and, most importantly, by 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 at the UCC Memory Clinic.
Bernal says Latinos develop symptoms anytime seven to 10 years earlier than Caucasians. Additionally, Bernal says there is a lot of stigma in the Latino community around Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
“We want to close that gap, where people find Alzheimer’s disease a normal part of aging, when there really are issues with memory, cognition, and behavior,” Bernal said.
Bernal says the exams done in other places are only in English and at a higher level of education than their patients. Although having an interpreter may be an option for patients, sometimes what is being said can get lost in translation.
“We are here to educate the community and to be able to bridge the gap between Alzheimer’s disease and the Latino community by providing services in Spanish,” Bernal said.
Adriana Gutierrez brought her mother, Norma, to the memory clinic when she started noticing changes in her mother. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died last November. Gutierrez says she is grateful for the help and support the clinic has given her.
Gutierrez says she and her mother felt relieved at the clinic, knowing they had someone to communicate with them in their language to answer any questions they had. They were trained in treatments to help her mother once she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Apart from the memory clinic, UCC also has a senior center for seniors to do activities together and an adult daycare center.
“The adult day center provides care for people who have been diagnosed with dementia or have cognitive problems etc., so they will come here and do activities,” said Vanessa Anciani, social worker at the clinic. the memory of the UCC.
Gutierrez and others say they have found a supportive community at UCC and are grateful that it is part of the Southeastern Wisconsin Latino community.
To find out more about the clinic and other services at UCC, Click here.