Mental health of elderly Latino males

Cynthia Alford, David Espino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The aging population of Latinos is increasing rapidly with accompanying implications for health and well-being. Structural factors may have more impact in the final stage of life than at any other due to the cumulative effects of substandard health care, occupational hazards, and life stress. One of two mental health concerns will likely impair the quality of life experienced by elderly Latinos, and both are influenced by poverty and poor health care access: cognitive impairment, which includes Alzheimers disease and associated dementias, and late-life depression. Both are underrecognized and undertreated, and both are major causes of morbidity and mortality in this age group. Demographers estimate that Latinos will constitute 40 percent of the U.S. population over age sixty-five by 2040 (Aponte and Crouch 2002). The 2000 census reports that Latinos comprise 14.5 percent of the U.S. population, with 1.7 million over the age of sixty-five. The three largest Latino subgroups were Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican. Forty percent of Latinos over the age of sixty-five were foreign-born (U.S. Census Bureau 2002). The leading causes of death for older Latino males differ somewhat from those of older non-Hispanic white males, as shown in table 13.1. Diabetes and its complications, now at an epidemic level in the Latino population, is the primary difference. However, compared to both non-Hispanic whites and blacks, Latinos have lower mortality rates from heart diseases, cerebrovascular disease, and malignant neoplasms. This phenomenon, known as the "Hispanic paradox," has been theorized to result from cultural factors and selective immigration (Franzini 2001), which act to offset lower education rates and incomes. This advantage declines with length of stay in the United States and with future generations (Vega and Amaro 1994). Although cognitive impairment and depression are not leading causes of death, they are a significant cause of disability and stress in the later years of Latino males and their families. It has been posited that structural factors, such as lower socioeconomic status and limited financial resources, directly affect the older Latinos perception of environmental mastery/control, which may be predictive of cognitive dysfunction and late-life depression (Briones et al. 2002).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHealth Issues in Latino Males
Subtitle of host publicationA Social and Structural Approach
PublisherRutgers University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780813546032
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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