The Health of Older Mexican Americans in the Long Run

Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 48202, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 09/2009; 99(10):1879-85. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.133744
Source: PubMed


We compared risk for several medical illnesses between immigrant and US-born older Mexican Americans to determine the relationship between functional health and years of US residency among immigrants.
Cross-sectional, multistage probability sample data for 3050 Mexican Americans aged 65 years or older from 5 US southwestern states were analyzed. Self-rated health, medical illnesses, and functional measures were examined in multivariate regression models that included nativity and years of US residency as key predictors.
Self-rated health and medical illnesses of immigrant and US-born groups did not differ significantly. Immigrants with longer US residency had significantly higher cognitive functioning scores and fewer problems with functional activities after adjustment for predisposing and medical need factors.
Among older Mexican Americans, immigrant health advantages over their US-born counterparts were not apparent. Immigrants had better health functioning with longer US residency that may derive from greater socioeconomic resources. Our findings suggest that the negative acculturation-health relationship found among younger immigrant adults may become a positive relationship in later life.

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Available from: Mary Elizabeth Bowen, May 14, 2014
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    • "We hypothesized that those factors enabling better healthcare access would explain the positive association between acculturation and health; however, the healthcare access enabling factors that we examined inadequately explained this relationship. This is consistent with previous work and suggests that other factors may be operating to affect the trajectory of the acculturation-health relationship (González et al., 2009). Some influential factors that could affect the acculturation-health relationship may include a full spectrum of environmental conditions (i.e., toxic exposures), goods and services including improved communication with healthcare providers and other agents, better access to healthcare information (e.g., internet resources) and comprehension of that information (e.g., public health messages and medical prescriptions), healthier and safer neighborhood environmental conditions (for the individual and family), and less physiological and psychological stress associated with life as a minority in the US in a lowest socioeconomic position (González, Vega, & Tarraf, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the acculturation-health relationship using metabolic syndrome biomarkers. Cross-sectional sample data. 1,789 Mexican Americans (60 years and older) from northern California. Biomarkers (waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, and high-density lipids) were used to construct the metabolic syndrome indicator using American Heart Association criteria. MAIN PREDICTOR: Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II scores. Higher acculturation scores were associated with a significantly lower risk for the metabolic syndrome for foreign-born, but not U.S.-born, Mexican Americans. Immigrant health advantages over U.S.-born Mexican Americans are not evident in older adulthood. Higher acculturation was associated with lowered metabolic syndrome risk among older foreign-born Mexican Americans. This suggests that the prevailing acculturative stress hypothesis may not apply to the health of older adults and that any negative relationship between acculturation and health found in younger adults may yield to different developmental health influences in later adulthood.
    Journal of Aging and Health 10/2011; 23(7):1101-15. DOI:10.1177/0898264311421371 · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    • "Recently, in an attempt to untangle the relationship of acculturation to health status, Gonzalez and colleagues (2009) suggested that the negative connection between increased acculturation and worse health found in younger Mexican Americans may not remain negative later in life. The reasoning behind this assertion was that increased acculturation may bring with it a greater ability to navigate the health care system, accumulate assets (both knowledge-based and physical), and adapt to personal health needs (Gonzalez et al, 2009). This has already been shown in a study from the Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD) where acculturation, as measured by length of time in the United States, mediated the negative association between immigration and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) as well as health care insurance (Lum et al, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the effect of acculturation on becoming frail and prefrail over a 10-year period among older Mexican Americans. A nationally representative sample of 2,049 Mexican Americans aged 67 to 108 was analyzed. Adjusted for sociodemographics and health, longitudinal multinomial mixed models examined the effects of English language and frequency of contact with Anglo-Americans on transitions among deceased, nonfrail, prefrail, and frail statuses. Greater English language proficiency was associated with a 10% reduced likelihood of becoming prefrail (p < .05) and marginally associated with a reduced likelihood of becoming frail (relative risk = 0.88; p = .07). Frequent contact with Anglos was significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of becoming frail (relative risk = 0.87; p < .05). Among older Mexican Americans, acculturation at baseline was protective of transitioning from a nonfrail or prefrail to a frail state. These findings suggest that increased acculturation may provide Mexican Americans with protection from health issues in old age.
    Journal of Aging and Health 12/2010; 23(4):704-13. DOI:10.1177/0898264310391786 · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    • "These domains illustrate the challenges facing Latino elders in establishing satisfactory lifestyles that sustain optimal functioning. The extant evidence has shown that the Hispanic health paradox favoring positive health and well-being among Latino immigrants does not hold true in later life, as early robust health gives way to high rates of mental and physical disability and chronic disease (Gonzalez et al., 2009). Later in this paper, the question will be raised about whether long-range national policies being contemplated or enacted, and which are intended to address these three key domains, are likely to have an important impact if they are fully implemented. "
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