Age of Migration Life Expectancy with Functional Limitations and Morbidity in Mexican Americans

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The U.S. Mexican American population enjoys longer life expectancies relative to other racial/ethnic groups but is disproportionately affected by chronic conditions and functional limitations. Studying the impact of heterogeneity in age, time and other characteristics of migration among older Mexican Americans can inform our understanding of health disparities and healthcare needs in later-life. This research used 20 years of data from the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly to assess the proportion of life spent with functional limitations and one or more morbidity (according to age of migration and sex) in the U.S. Mexican-American population. The results indicate that early-life and late-life migrant women spend more years with Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment limitations than U.S.-born women. Conversely, midlife migrant women were not statistically different from U.S.-born women in years spent disabled. In men, midlife migrants had longer life expectancies and had more disability-free years than U.S.-born men. For morbidity, late-life migrant women spent a significantly smaller proportion of their elderly years with morbidity than U.S.-born women, but late-life migrant men spent more years with morbidity than U.S.-born men. These findings illustrate that older Mexican Americans in the United States are heterogeneous in nativity and health outcomes. More years spent disabled or unhealthy may result in greater burden on family members and greater dependence on public resources. These findings have implications for the development of social and health policies to appropriately target the medical conditions and disabilities of older Mexican Americans entering late life.

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