Cultural Diversity - Health
As noted earlier, minority older adults who survive to age sixty-five and beyond tend to be in poorer health than age peers who are white (though it is important to note that some ethnic subgroups have a higher life expectancy than the undifferentiated category of whites). Minority older adults are also more likely to suffer from multiple illnesses that further complicate treatment regimens (Markides and Miranda, 1997). Yet there are some commonalities across racial and national origin groups for adults age sixty-five and older. For instance, for both men and women across all groups, heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death. Strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as lung disease, tend to be either the third or fourth leading cause of death, with the exception of Native Americans and Hispanics, both of whom have diabetes mellitus as the fourth leading cause of death. Alzheimer's disease is the eighth leading cause of death among white men, and the sixth leading cause among white women, age sixty-five and older. Alzheimer's disease is also the tenth leading cause of death among African-American women, the ninth leading cause of death for Native American women, and the seventh leading cause death among Hispanic women.
Older adults on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder often lack adequate private insurance to supplement Medicare, and do not have resources to meet out-of-pocket costs. This especially affects African-American and Hispanic older adults, who experience high rates of poverty. Without adequate resources to pay for medical care, they tend to receive inferior services. They must depend on Medicaid and hospital emergency rooms, rather than a regular physician, for care.
VIRGIL H. ADAMS III DAVID J. EKERDT
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