Many Elderly California Residents Have Chronic Health Conditions; Racial Disparities Remain, Study Finds
A growing number of elderly California residents are in poor health, suffering from chronic health conditions, and minorities are some of the most affected, according to a University of California-Los Angeles study released on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study is based on the California Health Interview Survey, which polls about 50,000 households statewide every two years.
Researchers led by Steven Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health, found that three out of five elderly California residents had high blood pressure in 2005, up from half in 2001. One in six elderly residents had diabetes, which is the fifth most common cause of death among older adults in the U.S. Researchers also found significant racial disparities. Diabetes and obesity rates were nearly twice as high for elderly blacks and Hispanics as whites, according to the study. In addition, elderly Asian-Americans, blacks and Hispanics were three times as likely to report having a lack of access to food (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 11/21).
Researchers said that poverty, language barriers, immigration status, obesity and physical inactivity might play a role in the disparities. Lack of treatment can also cause complications that worsen manageable conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, Wallace added. "If you can't communicate with your provider effectively, that's a barrier to treatment," he said (Clemings, Fresno Bee, 11/20).
The report is available online.