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Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Health in Late Life: A Research Agenda
not report any greater heart disease morbidity than whites (Crimmins et al., 2004; Hayward et al., 2000). In these data, blacks aged 50 and older report higher levels than whites of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, bladder problems, lung problems, asthma, back problems, foot and leg problems, and vision and hearing problems (Hayward et al., 2000). On the last problem, however, testing of adults, as well as reported diagnoses, suggest better hearing among blacks, particularly elderly black men, than whites (Desai et al., 2001; Henselman et al., 1995; Jerger et al., 1986; Pleis and Coles, 2002).
Among blacks, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease appear to be more prevalent than among whites (Manly and Mayeux, 2004), despite Alzheimer’s being more often listed as a cause of death for whites. Although precise comparisons of cognitive status are clearly difficult for populations with different educational backgrounds, blacks do appear more likely to suffer from vascular dementia than whites (Manly and Mayeux, 2004). In contrast, blacks report lower levels of depression than whites.
Hispanics report being diagnosed with diabetes much more often than whites, but much less often with circulatory diseases (with the exception of stroke among women) and any cancer, including breast cancer (see Table 1-3; Pleis and Coles, 2002). Some other data suggest more self-reports of respiratory problems, infections, pneumonia, influenza, and accidents (Markides and Black, 1996), though this is on the face of it inconsistent with fewer deaths from these causes among Hispanics. Levels of cognitive impairment and affective disorders for Hispanics appear to be higher than among whites, a comparison complicated by differences in socioeconomic status as well as language (Manly and Mayeux, 2004; Myers and Hwang, 2004).
There is a little more information about Mexicans in the United States than about other Hispanics. Mexicans’ life expectancies are similar to those for whites (Rogers et al., 1996; Sorlie et al., 1993); they have higher levels of disability than whites or other Hispanics (Hummer et al., 2004) and are sometimes reported to be less likely to suffer from major depression (Burnam et al., 1987).
Asians are not in the data for Table 1-3, but other data show they have lower prevalence than whites for heart disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease (Kagawa-Singer et al., 1997; Whittemore, 1989; Ziegler et al., 1993), consistent with their lower mortality levels. The evidence on relative levels of depression for Asians is mixed: some studies show Asians’ reporting higher levels of depression than whites, while others find lower levels (Kuo, 1984; Myers and Hwang, 2004).
The Asian and Pacific Islander population is a composite of many groups that vary in health as well as many other life circumstances. Little is known about Asian subgroups, but research has shown Indians, Chinese,