Growing Concern: Caregiver Community Worries about Aging Hispanic Population

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a report emphasizing the importance of providing caregivers and care recipients with the necessary resources to carry out their work. This becomes particularly crucial considering that the Hispanic community in the United States has been aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country, according to a recent census report. The Hispanic population has long been involved in caring for the adult population, both within their own families and as a professional vocation.

The AHA report highlights that caregiving is deeply ingrained in Hispanic/Latino culture, especially among Mexican Americans. However, research suggests that this sense of family obligation may be diminishing among younger generations as they become more acculturated and individualistic due to work obligations and other personal circumstances.

The report reveals that in 2020, the average age of the Hispanic community in the U.S. reached 30 years, an increase of 2.7 years compared to 2010, and 4.2 years compared to 2000. In contrast, the median age of the non-Hispanic population was higher, around 41 years, with only a 1.5-year increase since 2010.

The number of Hispanic adults aged 65 and older has nearly tripled since 2000, reaching approximately 4.9 million in 2020. By 2060, this number is projected to quadruple. This aging population presents unique challenges for the Latino community in terms of caregiving.

Latino caregivers, on average, are younger than those from other racial and ethnic groups, with an average age of 43. The individuals being cared for are typically around 67 years old and often have multiple medical conditions, according to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). Latino caregivers also face more financial and personal pressures, as many of them have full or part-time jobs.

The NAC report further reveals that Latinos utilize fewer resources for caregiver support and information compared to other demographic groups. This lack of outreach, compounded by lower incomes, lower rates of medical insurance, and language barriers, makes it difficult for Latino caregivers to access the necessary resources and support services they need.

To alleviate some of these challenges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced a new model in July to assist unpaid caregivers, including Latino caregivers. However, there is still a need for more accessible resources in Spanish and better outreach efforts to ensure that Latino caregivers can access the support they require.

The report shares the personal story of María Aranda, the executive director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, who, along with her sister, is caring for their 91-year-old mother with heart disease. Aranda emphasizes the additional stress of caring for someone with dementia and the lack of representation of the Latino community in clinical trials, specifically for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Data from The Lancet Regional Health-Americas and the U.S. census reveal that while Hispanics make up around 20% of the total U.S. population, they represent only 6% of the participants in clinical trials that provide ethnic information. This disparity is not only due to a lack of outreach and higher uninsured rates but also stems from higher distrust of clinical trials within the Latino community.

In response to this underrepresentation, Aranda and Pérez are coauthors of a report published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions. The report calls for better outreach and funding in clinical studies for Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, as well as the development of bilingual resources and a diverse workforce to support the Latino community.

Aranda is currently piloting a psychoeducational intervention in English and Spanish for family caregivers of people living with dementia. Pérez, on the other hand, is conducting a study in Philadelphia that monitors cognitive health, heart health, and sleep health among older Latino adults.

The “Tiempo Juntos” study aims to assess the impact of regular exercise on Latinos aged 55 and older who are not physically active. It includes group walks, followed by health screenings that provide valuable community data on health outcomes.

Addressing the health disparities and inequities that exist in healthcare requires collective responsibility, according to Pérez. It is not solely the responsibility of Latino scientists or healthcare providers but everyone’s duty.

In conclusion, the AHA’s report sheds light on the crucial need to provide resources and support for caregivers and care recipients, especially within the Hispanic community. As the Hispanic population continues to age, it is necessary to address the unique challenges faced by Latino caregivers, including language barriers and lack of outreach. Improving access to resources and increasing representation in clinical trials will contribute to better caregiving outcomes for this community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *