Wednesday, September 28, 2011
African-American women develop functional health challenges earlier than their fellow seniors, researchers say
While examining self-reported data about the lives of 8,700 older people, researchers identified an accelerated rate of reported physical limitations by African American women in their mid-50s and 60s. The finding surfaced as researchers looked generally at how the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity affect health disparities among older African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and whites. Researchers found that, in general, men of all racial/ethnic groups fared better than women. Aging white men overall started out with less than one disabling limitation on average, but every year slightly increased until age 75 when they had slightly more than two. Mexican-American women, who fared the worst, reached 75 with twice as many physical limitations on average as white men - nearly five. Mexican-American men, African-American men, white men and white women did not vary significantly in the rate at which they developed disabilities as they aged. However, African-American women gained more disabilities early on. After their mid-60s, the rate of disabilities began to decrease. By age 75, it appeared that the pace of acquiring disabilities had stabilized.