The Disease That Many Costa Ricans Ignore


A recent study carried out in the United States shows that death caused by Alzheimer’s disease has increased 55% in the last 15 years.

What’s the current situation in Costa Rica?

According to the specialist Norbel Roman, president of the Costa Rican Association of Alzheimer and other Mental Illnesses and Daniel Valerio, geriatrician and representative of the Memory Clinic of Blanco Cervantes Hospital, there aren’t specific stats or reports on the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Women are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s than men

“It’s still really hard to know how many Costa Ricans have Alzheimer’s in Costa Rica. Local healthcare centers haven’t been notified to report the Alzheimer’s cases. The Ministry of Health is proposing a law to encourage hospitals and clinics to keep track on Alzheimer’s and publish an annual report” – Dr. Valero said.

However, the Memory Clinic, which has been in business for 10 years, checked around 5 thousand people, determining that the average age of people with dementia is 73 years and that women are a little more prone to suffer from it than men, considering that ladies tend to live longer than their peers. The first leading cause of dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease and the second one is linked to vascular problems.

Dr. Valerio states that it’s paramount to count on reliable statistics because “dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are lethal health problems that require a lot of resources. People with this disability can live many years, for this reason, the authorities must be prepared to provide timely diagnoses. Additionally, the organizations should also provide psychological help assistance to the families, since a lot of seniors end up in old people’s homes which is economically unsustainable” – said the specialist.

Is Alzheimer’s a mortal disease?

It’s not a mortal disease but it causes other health issues that eventually lead to death.

“Direct cause of death is due to complications derived from the mental disease like pneumonia, cancer or a cardiac arrest… (…) In the last stages of the disease, the individual is not able to move, eat, and is confined to bed or wheelchair. To put it simply, Alzheimer’s patients die of the complications, infections, casual accidents and malnutrition” – Valerio explained.

Dr. Roman stated that those reports will help determine the real death cause of people with this mental issue.


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