Mexican Americans Confront High Disability Rates in Later Life

Life expectancy for Hispanics in the U.S. currently outpaces other ethnic groups, yet a new study finds that Mexican Americans — especially women who were born in Mexico — are spending a high proportion of their later years with some form of disability, a fact that suggests a growing need for community assistance and long-term care in the future. These findings are reported in a new article published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences titled “Longer Lives, Sicker Lives? Increased Longevity and Extended Disability Among Mexican Origin Elders.” The authors are Ronald J. Angel, PhD, and Jacqueline L. Angel, PhD, at the University of Texas at Austin, and Terrence D. Hill, PhD, at the University of Arizona. This is the first study to document the fraction of time the Mexican-American population over 65 years old will spend with significant physical disability prior to death. Employing a unique longitudinal data set that followed older Mexican Americans for 18 years, the researchers estimate that those who reach age 65 spend over one-half of their remaining years, on average, with serious physical impairments. “The fact that Mexican Americans have an average life expectancy of 81.4 years indicates significant progress against the chronic diseases of aging, although longer life is not an unmixed blessing,” said Jacqueline L. Angel. “Unfortunately we have not compressed morbidity as much as we would have liked and many older Mexican Americans need extensive care, either from their families or others. Such a burden has serious implications for Mexican-American families and for long-term care policy.”

Source/more: EurekAlert

David Wingate is an elder law attorney practicing in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice consists of Wills, Powers of Attorneys, Trusts, asset protection and Medicaid (Medical Assistance.)

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