Hispanic cultures are very respectful of their elders. The diagnosis “demencia” is associated with craziness and insanity rather than a decrease in mental abilities. This diagnosis can come across as very disrespectful for the patient and their family members. Instead, to soften up the diagnosis, healthcare professionals can use the term “la chochera” which reflects diminished mental abilities and is much more widely accepted by Hispanic cultures that revere their elders. Another way to give the diagnosis is to simply explain what it means. For example, one can say the patient has “una pérdida de facultades mentales” or a loss of mental functioning.
Latino Americans have a much larger percentage of people suffering from diabetes, specifically Type II Diabetes. Almost 15% of Latino Americans have Type II Diabetes. The increased rates may be due, in part, to differences in diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, many native Spanish-speakers hold certain beliefs about treatments such as insulin that may discourage them from seeking these treatments. Insulin may represent the inability of a patient to manage their own body and disease and many believe that it causes blindness. Because the incidence of diabetes is so high in this culture, many believe that it is their destiny or the will of God to get the disease.
One study found that manic-depressive illness occurs three times more frequently in Hispanic patients than in non-Hispanic patients, particularly of the lower socioeconomic class.