Growing Hispanic Elderly Population Concerns Florida Public Health Officials
Florida public health officials are concerned about being able to meet the health care demands of a growing elderly Hispanic population in the state, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The concern is particularly pressing in Central Florida, according to the Sentinel. According to U.S. Census data, the Hispanic elderly population of Central Florida has grown by about 200% since 2000, from 19,000 to nearly 60,000 residents. Statewide, there were 60,000 Hispanics ages 80 and older in 2000, and that number is expected to nearly double by 2010 -- an increase that is three times the rate for whites in the same age group, according to the census data.
Hispanics are more likely than whites to have diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions more common among the elderly. According to the Sentinel, health officials are concerned that a fear or distrust of the health care system among Spanish-speaking elderly will prevent them from seeking care. Low-education, poverty, lack of health insurance and inexperience with the health care system also might prevent elderly Hispanics from receiving the care they need.
In addition, Hispanics traditionally provide care for their elderly at home. Jane Delgado of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health said tailored health care services could improve the situation. She said, "Speaking Spanish is not enough. You have to understand the context in which a person lives, their relationship to family, the housing they need, transportation" and other services. Lack of such information could affect the quality of care, Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, said.
Without a plan to address the issues, many Hispanic elderly residents will not receive the care that they need, the Sentinel reports. Cruz said, "We just don't have the support and infrastructure within our society to support the growing needs of the Hispanic aging population" (Hernandez, Orlando Sentinel, 8/8).