This book provides a multidisciplinary compendium of research pertaining to aging among diverse racial and ethnic populations in the United States. It focuses on paramount public health, social, behavioral, and biological concerns as they relate to the needs of older minorities. The book is divided into four parts covering psychology, public health/biology, social work, and sociology of minority gang. The book focuses on the needs of four major race and ethnic groups: Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, black/African American, and Native American. It also includes both inter- and intra-race and ethnic group research for insights regarding minority aging. The chapters focus on an array of subject areas that are recognized as being critical to understanding the well-being of minority elders. These include psychology (cognition, stress, mental health, personality, sexuality, religion, neuroscience, discrimination); medicine/nursing/public health (mortality and morbidity, disability, health disparities, long-term care, genetics, nutritional status, health interventions, physical functioning); social work (aging, caregiving, housing, social services, end-of-life care); and sociology (Medicare, socioeconomic status (SES), work and retirement, social networks, context/neighborhood, ethnography, gender, demographics).
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- Go to chapter: Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
This chapter presents an illustration of the complexities involved in studying ethnic and racial influences on psychosocial processes and how they are intimately tied to physical outcomes in later life. It focuses on psychology as a discipline, minority aging research during the last several decades has revealed the need for multidisciplinary and intersectional conceptual and research approaches. The chapter also focuses on the age, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, and racial and ethnic graded influences on life course development that eventuate in unequal burdens of psychological and physical health morbidity and mortality for certain groups in late life. No section on psychology could be complete without a discussion of religion and spirituality among racial and ethnic minorities. Generational processes are clearly implicated in ideas about the cyclical nature of poverty and health behaviors that are intricately linked with environmental factors and social influence.
- Go to chapter: Minority Aging Before Birth and Beyond: Life Span and Intergenerational Adaptation Through Positive Resources
Minority Aging Before Birth and Beyond: Life Span and Intergenerational Adaptation Through Positive Resources
This chapter presents an integrative approach to the psychological study of minority populations and the reduction of health disparities through positive nonmaterial resources. It provides a brief introduction to positive psychology and to the concept of early life origins of disease, highlighting the value of integrating these seemingly disparate literatures as a lens for studying health and broader aging processes among minority populations. Minority status whether based on ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), citizenship, religion, or other factors is a robust determinant of health, well-being, and success across the life span and intergenerationally. Positive psychology is relevant to health and development particularly physiological and psychological adaptation to stress across the life span, and even across multiple generations among humans in general and among minority populations in particular. Health inequalities are the result of unique challenges to successful psychological and physiological adaptation faced by minority group members.
This chapter discusses current thinking in the field of social support and social relationships, and physical and mental health among older racial and ethnic minorities. Social relationships are an important predictor of health and psychological well-being across the life course. Many minority older adults will face the continued challenges of declining functional status due to physical and mental health conditions over the course of their lives. Most empirical studies on social support among older racial and ethnic minority adults explore the association between social support and both physical and mental health. The wealth of studies on social support among minority older adults has much to offer with respect to understanding the correlates of emotional support and patterns of assistance. The biological mechanisms explaining the link between social support and physical health outcomes have been largely unexplored among older racial and ethnic minority groups.
This chapter provides selective review of research on religion and spirituality across three groups of racial and ethnic minority older adults African American, Asian American, and Hispanic/Latino. It discusses major denomination and faith traditions, as well as information about types and patterns of participation and their sociodemographic correlates. The chapter examines informal social support provisions within faith communities and the types of assistance exchanged. It also examines associations between religion, spirituality and physical/mental health, and psychological well-being. Religion and spirituality, through a variety of psychosocial mechanisms and pathways are thought to have largely beneficial impacts on physical and mental hea.
A growing body of research documents racial and ethnic disparities in physical and mental health among older Americans. This chapter discusses larger stress process literature and reviews research on discrimination as a source of stress that is an influential determinant of racial and ethnic differences in the health status of older Americans. It provides a brief overview of disparities in health among older Americans. The chapter discusses the biology of stress, elaborates on key elements of the general stress process framework, and highlights findings pertinent to the health of older minorities. It reviews the research on personally mediated discrimination and health that includes findings from both age-diverse samples and those specific to older adults. The chapter also reviews the literature on coping with discrimination and the contribution of institutionalized discrimination to health inequalities. Lacking are investigations on the joint impact of perceived discrimination and residential segregation.
This chapter discusses various factors that influence cognitive aging in racial/ethnic minority groups. It presents evidence regarding the relationships between cognition and self-rated health, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and mortality. The chapter explains the role of language and bilingualism as it relates to minority cognitive aging. To advance the current knowledge regarding cognitive aging in minorities, appropriate research designs are vitally important. Cross-group research has generated literature on cognitive aging in racial/ethnic minority groups. The cognitive aging advantages of improved educational quality associated with desegregation appear to have been diminished by negative aspects of the school environment, such as racism experienced by African American students. The inclusion of racial/ethnic minorities in cognitive aging research challenges scientists to use appropriate research designs and broaden research questions by examining within-group variability to better describe the diverse aging population.
This chapter focuses on aging and health issues in all of America’s major minority populations including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, as well as Native Americans. It addresses the issues of health inequality and health advantage/disadvantage. The chapter introduces relatively new areas of inquiry including long-term care, genetics, nutrition, health interventions, and health policy issues. In addition to possible genetic factors, the literature has emphasized the influence of poverty and socioeconomic status as well as stressors associated with minority group status. The system of long-term care services will need to be restructured to take into account issues affecting minority populations such as health care coverage, housing and income supports, as well as cultural issues as filial piety and trust. The field of minorities, aging, and health has been dominated by a health inequality perspective that has been illustrated by the application of cumulative disadvantage/cumulative inequality theory.
This chapter examines racial and ethnic differences in disability in the United States with a focus on their patterns, trends, and determinants. Disability is responsible for massive social and economic costs to individuals, families, and health care systems. Racial and ethnic differences in health are one of the most widely studied topics in U.S. health disparities research. The risk of disability among older Asians is an understudied area, despite the growth of this population subgroup in recent years due to increased volume of immigration from Asia to the United States. There is an ongoing interest in measuring and understanding the patterns and causes of racial/ethnic differences in disability in the United States. Rising obesity may play an important role in the findings for Hispanic women and for the trend in disability for all race/ethnic groups.
This chapter provides an overview of key theoretical considerations that are important to understanding mortality and longevity differences across groups. It focuses on the historical and social contexts as well as the life course processes that are most important in understanding patterns and trends of race/ethnicity, aging, and mortality/longevity in the United States. The chapter provides a new empirical analysis of race/ethnicity and U.S. adult mortality risk, focusing on key demographic and socioeconomic factors that influence mortality differentials across groups. It also focuses on critical research needs and on the ways that social and health policy might effectively influence future mortality and longevity trends for all race/ethnic subgroups in an increasingly diverse and aging society. The understanding of race/ethnic patterns and trends of mortality and longevity must also consider the ways in which the life course unfolds in unique ways across groups.