UCLA study examines health of California seniors

Health difficulties most frequently tarnish the golden years of California Latinos and seniors with limited-English proficiency, according to an extensive UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report on the well-being of the state's oldest residents. The study is the first comprehensive evaluation of the health of California seniors that includes county-level information.

About 44.7 percent of the state's older Latinos and 46.2 percent of seniors with limited English abilities report poor or fair health (versus good, very good or excellent). Both groups also report higher rates of diabetes and emotional difficulties, lower rates of screening procedures and preventive services, and less generous health insurance.

In contrast, just 30 percent of California's total population of 3.6 million residents age 65 and older report poor or fair health, and 26 percent nationwide. About 40 percent of older adults in San Francisco, Kern and Tulare/Kings counties report fair or poor health, compared with just over 20 percent in Marin/Sonoma, Napa and the mountain counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono and Tuolumne.

Using data culled from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2001, the 137 page report provides detailed profiles of health behavior, health status and preventive care among California's oldest residents. Data are available by region, county, gender, ethnicity, income level and English proficiency. The report -- titled "Health of Older Californians: County Data Book" -- was funded by the Archstone Foundation and The California Endowment, a statewide health foundation.

"Most older persons are working to maintain their health by following recommended schedules for cancer screenings, obtaining flu shots, not smoking and taking medicines for chronic conditions. Yet some groups, such as Latinos, have more health problems than average and obtain fewer preventive services," said lead author Steven P. Wallace, asso

Contact: Dan Page
University of California - Los Angeles

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