Minorities Account for Small Portion of Nursing Home Population, U.S. Census Data Indicates; Assisted-Living Facilities Begin To Cater to Immigrants
The nation's nursing home population has few Hispanics and Asian-Americans and is largely white and female, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida Today reports.
According to the report -- which the bureau said is the first in-depth look into the nursing home population since the 1980 Census -- more than 69% of the U.S. nursing home population is female and nearly 83.9% of the entire nursing home population is white. In addition, the percentage of Hispanics and Asian-Americans in the U.S. population is more than three times the percentage of both groups in the nursing home population.
Experts maintain that cultural differences explain the disparity. John Potomski, a geriatric physician in Florida and president of the state's American Medical Directors Association, said, "There are probably both cultural and economic reasons, but I would put more emphasis on the cultural." He added, "Hispanics and blacks are more reticent about placing loved ones into a nursing home. Not only are there abandonment issues, but I think they tend to revere their elders more and are more inclined to take care of them themselves" (Jenks, Florida Today, 9/27).
Assisted Living Facilities
In related news, the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday examined how in Central Florida and across the nation, assisted-living facilities are beginning to "cater to immigrant needs -- offering staff who speak native languages and cook traditional foods," among other accommodations.
According to the Sentinel, "Traditionally, immigrant families have frowned on assisted-care facilities for their elderly" and "aging parents lived with their children, who had a cultural obligation to care for them." Recently though, immigrants' views on assisted living have changed, "fueled largely by two-career families, hectic lifestyles and increased wealth," the Sentinel reports. Besides cultural issues, cost also has prevented some immigrants from using assisted-living facilities. Even though financial assistance often is available, many immigrants do not seek it because of language barriers and concern about their immigration status, according to experts.
Ethnic enclaves of assisted living facilities are increasing in cities with large minority populations, Tracy Dietz -- an associate professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida who has researched assisted-living facilities, race and ethnicity -- said. "The elderly simply want the same comforts they grew up on," she added (Persaud, Orlando Sentinel, 9/25).