Health Status Among Hispanic Elderly - Paper Example

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comparative analysis of elderly Hispanic and other elderly Americans. Clinical gerontologist, 11(3-4), 21-42.

The authors focus on examining the factors that enhance the peace of mind and satisfaction for Hispanic and elderly Americans. This article is quite informative, as it contains relevant statistics and figures regarding populations. However, some of the statistics will not be applied in this literature review because they are outdated. Nevertheless, I will use the article to assess the factors that promote peace of mind for the Hispanic elderly. Thus, the article will supply critical secondary information required to complete the literature review.

Davis, M. A., Murphy, S. P., Neuhaus, J. M., Gee, L., & Quiroga, S. S. (2000). Living

arrangements affect dietary quality for US adults aged 50 years and older: NHANES III 19881994. The Journal of nutrition, 130(9), 2256-2264

The article explores diet quality among the elderly based on four living arranges; living with a spouse only, with a spouse and another person and living alone. The study concludes that elders s living with spouses alone have better diet quality than other living arrangement.

Markides, K. S., & Eschbach, K. (2005). Aging, migration, and mortality: current status

of research on the Hispanic paradox. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 60(Special_Issue_2), S68-S75.

Marikedes et al. analyse statistics which show a mortality advantage for the Hispanic communities as compared to not Hispanic whites. Also, the advantage among elderly people is prevalent as compared to the younger generation. Coversly, the authors caution of a decline in this adavantage as evidenced by data from the National Death index surveys.The article indicates continual support of a Hispanic mortality advantage though at a declining rate

Health Status among Hispanic Elderly


According to Markides et al. the elderly Hispanic people population is one of the fastest growing in America. For instance, Hispanic elders are projected to increase to 15.5 percent of the total elderly population by the middle of the next century. The rapid growth in population of Hispanicpeople has contributed to highgrowth of the elderly population(Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300).On the other hand, Vega et al. suggest that the rapid growth in the population of Latinos in America is caused by high birth and immigration rates. Furthermore, the authors project that the Latino population will continue to expand at 113% between years 2000 and 2025 and 273% from 2000 to 2050(Vega, Rodriguez, & Gruskin, 2009, p. 99-112)

Markides et al. notes that Mexicans are the highest in populationamong the Hispanic subgroups at 61.2 % and mainly reside in the South Western states of Colorado, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Puerto Ricans in the New York City are second at 12.1% per while Cubans in Floridaaccount for 4.8%. Other Hispanic populations in the North Western states are of Central and South American origin.Markides et al. argue that the distribution of elderly Hispanics follows the same characteristics observed. Notably, Mexican elders account for 49% while the Cuban and Puerto Rican subgroups account for 15% and 12%respectively howeverthe proportion of old people among different subgroups significantly differ.For example, 17% of Cubans are in the old age bracket compared to less than 5% of the Mexicans (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300).

Limited research on elderly Hispanic populationhas mainly focused onstrong family bonds as pointed out by Markides et al. Research has shown that the old among Hispanic populations experience good relationships with their children despite low education levels. Children have had more contact and shown familialattitudes towards their elderly parents as compared to Anglo- Americans. Research on health has concentrated on the needs of Hispanic Elders in access to social services and healthcare citing cultural and linguistic barriers. Thus, the authors seek to fill the knowledge gap on health issues affecting Hispanic populations by exploring the health status of the elderly. Selective return migration appears to lead to some benefits for Hispanic elderly as evidence indicates increase in mortality advantage (Markides & Eschbach, 2005).

Mortality and Disease Prevalence of Elderly Hispanic

Research has shown accumulating evidence of a Hispanic advantage concerning mortality at 45 years of age and above. However, this occurrence is prevalent among women as compared to men owing to lower cancer and heart disease cases in the female gender. Markides et al.explain that researchers have put forward different pieces of evidence on the exposure to disease risk factors giving an advantage to the Hispanic race. First, protective cultural patterns such as strong family ties leads to low stress levels among the elderly reducing risk to heart complications.Second is selective immigration and statistics indicate that immigrant Hispanics have better health than native-born. Despite high likelihood of Hispanics to be obese, contract diabetes or cancer as compared to the Anglo race, it is interesting to note the low mortality rates (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300). Marikedes et al. Note that evidence on the Hispanic mortality shows a narrowing trend due to changing lifestyles(Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300).

Vega et al. note that despite Latino immigrants having low income and limited access to healthcare they are healthier than their American born counterparts. For instance, the authors indicate that 22% of the Hispanic population lives below the poverty line as compared to 11% white not Hispanic. Moreover, health insurance rate among the different subgroups is lower as compared to other ethnic groups. For example, 40% of Mexicans, 21% of Puerto Ricans and 26% of Cubans remain uninsured as compared 16% of non-Hispanics (Vega, Rodriguez, & Gruskin, 2009, p. 99-112). The authors describe thelow mortality phenomena despite low incomes and education levels as Latino paradox.

Furthermore, Markides et al. argues that acculturation of the Hispanics into the American society has contributed to the increased rate exposure to chronic diseases. The authors cite positive correlation between the assimilation of Mexican into the American culture and increased hypertension cases between ages of 55 to 74 years. Assimilation is also cited to be negatively related to diabetes and obesity prevalence among Hispanics. Cigarette smoking is a negativeacculturationfactor that has led to higher risk of exposure to cancer and heart disease among Hispanic communities. For instance, the rate of cigarette smoking among Mexican males has increased leading to increases cases of heart disease and lung cancer. However, smoking among Mexican women has traditionally been low but has been on the increase due to acculturation (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300). One of the greatest challenges facing the elderly is the lack of adequate family and social supporting leading to psychological distress (Davis, Murphy, Neuhaus, Gee & Quiroga, 2000).

On the other hand, it is noted by the authors that excessive consumption of alcohol among the Mexican and Puerto Rican men is responsible for the high number of deaths related to liver cirrhosis. However, heavy drinking is observed among the younger generation as opposed to the elderly (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300).

Functional Limitations among Hispanic Elderly

While information on prevalence and mortality rate is crucial in describing the state of health, functional health data provides valuableinformation concerning aged people. Markides et al. explain that limited data sources suggest that the functional health of Hispanic elders is worse off compared to whites but better than African Americans. For instance, Mexican Americans report major difficulty with daily living activitiessuch as light house chores, meal preparation, shopping and calling as compared to whites. However, the limitation in functionality is to a lesser degree than with non-white populations.

Elderly Self- assessed Health

Self -assessed health is an important indicator of health status because it correlates with mortality and use health care uses. Therefore, self-assessed health is the outcome of complex processes which are subjective and influenced by culture, temperament as well as actual health status. Markides et al. point out that Puerto Ricans describe their health as being poorest while Cubans believe themselves as being the healthiest. Notably, social activities such as church attendance and meeting with friends influences better health self-assessment. Conversely, depression among the elderly negatively affects health assessment independent of physician evaluations (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300). Vega et al. emphasize on health literacy approach in strengthening individual self-assessed health. Healthcare systems and clinicians should play a critical role in encouraging Hispanic communities to engage in chronic disease screening for early detection and treatment. Educational Campaigns and programs for increased awareness should be developed to Hispanic subgroups. Furthermore, educational campaigns should encompass the use of mass media such as radio, television, newspaper, and magazines in both English and Spanish languages. Also, insurance companies should offer policy packages that address health care needs of uninsured Hispanic populations (Vega, Rodriguez, & Gruskin, 2009, p. 99-112). There is a need for government to implement strategies of ensuring that elderly Hispanic and Americans access basic services in healthcare (Andrews, Lyons & Rowland, 1992)

Mental Health among Hispanic Elderly

Studies have shown an increasing evidence of psychological stress among old females in the United States as compared to men. Stress levels among Hispanic subgroups follow a similar pattern with a study on Mexican American showing high-stress levels among females and as compared to males. Moreover, different stress patterns among Hispanic populations in different geographical regions have been observed. Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico have been found to have lower stress levels than those in New York. On the other hand, lower stress levels have been observed among Cubans living in Miami than in any other locations (Markides et al., 2011, p. 285-300).

Low English proficiencyis a barrier to mental health care access among Hispanic elderly. Kim et al. explain that foreign-born individuals have a challenge in accessing mental health services in the United States. Thus, despite immigrants with mental condition facing challenges, little research has been conducted to address the issue (Kim et al., 2011, p. 104-110). Therefore, the researchers undertook a study on Low English Proficiency as a barrier to mental health service use among Asian and Latino immigrants with mental disorders. Kim et al. conclude that access to insurance, mental disorders, and poor self-rated health determine mental health service use probability by Hispanic groups in the United States (Kim et al., 2011, p. 104-110).


Markides,Vega, and Kim et al. identify mortality, chronic disease prevalence, self- assessed health, and mental health as indicators of Hispanic elderly health status. WhereasMarkides and Kim et al. seek to explain patterns observed on the indicators, Vega et al. seeks to address the disparities on the issues discussed.Moreover, Vega et al. discuss solutions to address disparities in health issues facing Hispanic groups.


Markides, K. S., Rudkin, L., Angel, R. J., & Espino, D. V. (1997). Health status of Hispanic

elderly. Racial and ethnic differ...

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