We live in an aging world with countries like Japan and Italy with 21.6% of their population 65 years and older. Our nation is still relatively young with an elderly population of less than 13% but that is about to change. The baby boomers who started turning 65 last year will add 75 million more seniors and the percentage of seniors in this country will rise to 20% within the next ten years. This is good news if you are getting older while remaining healthy. Unfortunately for the large number of low and middle income seniors staying healthy and having access to services is not always an option. The growing number of Hispanic seniors continues to experience a litany of problems when accessing services, among them, language and cultural barriers, a fragmented service delivery system and lack of trained bilingual staff.
Take for example my own state of Florida where over one million individuals are 65 years and older and few have access to critical healthcare services. Luckly for our Hispanic community they are part of what is called the Hispanic paradox which means that despite their socioeconomic hurdles and lack of access they live longer than anyother ethinic or racial group by seven or more years. This is because Hispanic seniors are much healthier than expected and the reasons for this paradox are a matter of debate. Many suggest that factors such as diet, lifestyle choices and a strong social support network are key in understanding Hispanics’ better-than-expected health. Another favorable condition of Hispanics in Florida include declining disability rates, lower rates of Medicaid use and low utilization of nursing home care.
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