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Attitudes about aging well among a diverse group of older Americans: implications for promoting cognitive health.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA.
The Gerontologist (Impact Factor: 3.21). 06/2009; 49 Suppl 1:S30-9. DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnp084
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To examine perceptions about aging well in the context of cognitive health among a large and diverse group of older adults.
Forty-two focus groups were conducted with older adults living in the community (N = 396; White, African American, American Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hispanic). Participant descriptions of "someone who you think is aging well" were analyzed. Constant comparison methods examined themes by race/ethnicity.
There were notable race/ethnicity differences in perceptions of aging well. Compared with other racial/ethnic groups Chinese participants were more likely to emphasize relationships between mental outlook and physical abilities, Vietnamese participants were less likely to emphasize independent living. American Indians did not relate aging well to diet or physical activity. Important themes that emerged about aging well for all racial/ethnic groups were as follows: living to advanced age, having good physical health, having a positive mental outlook, being cognitively alert, having a good memory, and being socially involved.
To promote cognitive health among diverse populations, communication strategies should focus on shared perceptions of aging well, such as living to an advanced age with intact cognitive function, having a positive attitude, and being mobile. Health promotions may also create a range of culturally sensitive messages, targeted to views that are more salient among some racial/ethnic groups.

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    • "The themes stressed by focus group participants in this case study contrast with the themes and subthemes identifi ed by two English-speaking Hispanic focus groups on the same topic (Laditka et al., 2009). This is not to say that language was the main difference; we expect differences in household income, education, neighborhood deprivation , and degree of assimilation to say the least. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes the perceptions of brain health among older Spanish-speaking Mexican Americans who reside in colonia areas of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. In 2007, 33 Mexican American older adults (9 men and 24 women) were recruited by promotoras (community health workers) from clusters of colonias in Hidalgo County to participate in focus group discussions conducted in Spanish. After participants completed a 19-item questionnaire (in Spanish), a bilingual and bicultural researcher from the community, trained as a moderator, conducted 4 focus groups using a semistructured interview guide, culturally modified with the assistance of promotoras. All discussions were audio recorded; audio recordings were transcribed verbatim in Spanish and then translated into English. Analyses were conducted in English. Almost 85% had less than a high school education and 100% reported a household income less than $20,000/year. Groups attached cultural meaning to aging well. The idea of "staying straight in the mind" resonated as a depiction of brain health. Participants also mentioned the types of activities they could do to stay "right in the mind." Particular attention must be focused on development of programs that provide satisfying culturally appropriate activities for older participants and the delivery of health messages that take into consideration culture and language.
    The Gerontologist 06/2009; 49 Suppl 1:S79-85. DOI:10.1093/geront/gnp086 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    • "The themes stressed by focus group participants in this case study contrast with the themes and subthemes identifi ed by two English-speaking Hispanic focus groups on the same topic (Laditka et al., 2009). This is not to say that language was the main difference; we expect differences in household income, education, neighborhood deprivation , and degree of assimilation to say the least. "
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