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State on verge of population explosion of older Latinos

A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patient at a private clinic in New Delhi on November 8, 2011.  India is facing a twin epidemic of diabetes and high blood pressure, doctors have warned, after the results of a countrywide study suggested that one in five people had both conditions.
Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images
Administering an insulin shot to a diabetes patient.

Los Angeles County's older Latino population is poised to explode over the next 20 years, a trend that highlights the need to address that community's health issues, particularly its high diabetes rate, according to a USC report released Monday.

Overall, L.A. County’s population of those 50 and older is expected to grow by nearly 40 percent in the next two decades, while Latinos in that age group will see a much sharper rise – about 82 percent in the same period, according to the "Los Angeles Healthy Aging Report," released by USC's Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.

The growth trend carries with it some significant public heath implications, especially in the area of diabetes, said William Vega, executive director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.

Nearly one out of three Latinos 65 and older has diabetes, which can lead to heart attacks, blindness and kidney failure and more, said Vega.

"We know diabetes...increases the risk by 54 percent of Alzheimer's Disease," he said, adding that Baby Boomers - those born between 1946 and 1964 - have only recently started reaching age 65.

"So  we're just seeing the beginning of this," Vega said.  "That’s a bad, bad trend and it has to be managed, and quickly, too." 

Most immediately, L.A. County must figure out ways to increase health literacy among older Latino adults. And that includes teaching them about their illnesses and how to better manage chronic diseases with technology, including cell phone apps, which can help minimize doctor visits. 

"We have to give the best information and most reliable early service that we can possibly give them to try to stem the scope of this getting completely out of control," he said. 

You can check out the report below: