Ethnic Differences in Expectations for Aging Among Older Adults

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Abstract

Age-expectations of 611 non-Latino white, African-American, and Latino seniors recruited at 14 community-based senior centers in the greater Los Angeles region were compared. Participants completed the Expectations Regarding Aging (ERA-38) Survey, a self-administered instrument with previously demonstrated reliability and validity for measuring age-expectations. Analysis of variance was used to compare unadjusted differences between scores across ethnic groups. To examine whether observed differences persisted after adjusting for health and sociodemographic characteristics, a series of linear regression models was constructed, with the dependent variable being total ERA-38 score and the primary independent variables being African-American and Latino ethnicity (reference group = white), adjusting for age, sex, physical and mental health-related quality of life (HRQoL), medical comorbidity, activity of daily living (ADL) impairments, depression, and education. Latinos had significantly lower overall age-expectations than non-Latino whites or African Americans after adjusting for age and sex (parameter estimate = −3.4, P = .01); this difference persisted after adjusting for health variables including medical comorbidity, HRQoL, ADL impairments, and depression. After adjusting for education, being Latino was no longer significantly associated with lower age-expectations (parameter estimate = −1.9, P = .18). Being African American was not significantly associated with age-expectations in any of the adjusted models. Younger age and better HRQoL were associated with higher age-expectations in all models. In conclusion, of these 611 older adults recruited at senior centers in the greater Los Angeles region, Latinos had significantly lower age-expectations than non-Latino whites and African Americans, even after adjusting for health characteristics, but differences in educational levels explained this difference.

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