Getting by at home. Community-based long-term care of Latino elders.


Although evidence suggests that the morbidity and mortality of Latino elders (of any Hispanic ancestry) are similar to those of non-Latino whites, Latinos have higher rates of disability. Little is known about influences on the use of in-home health services designed to assist disabled Latino elders. We examine the effects of various cultural and structural factors on the use of visiting nurse, home health aide, and homemaker services. Data are from the Commonwealth Fund Commission's 1988 national survey of 2,299 Latinos aged 65 and older. Mexican-American elders are less likely than the average Latino to use in-home health services despite similar levels of need. Structural factors including insurance status are important reasons, but acculturation is not pertinent. Physicians should not assume that Latino families are taking care of their disabled elders simply because of a cultural preference. They should provide information and advice on the use of in-home health services when an older Latino patient is physically disabled.

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