Photo: The Latino Paradox
As the life expectancy continues to increase, the Latino community is faced with what many experts call the “Latino paradox,” in which much like the overall population, they are living longer, yet they often suffer from chronic health problems that lower their quality of life.
While the Latino population continues to grow, the number of “frail elderly” will grow as well. In fact, as a whole, the Latino population has a higher life expectancy than non-Latinos – Mexican-Americans in particular. Unfortunately, this “extra time” has trade-offs since chronic health issues usually accompany the years.
Experts are still trying to address the paradox though evidence suggests that there is a link between poverty, lack of education, and “the loss of the immigrant advantage through selective health risk behaviors, such as smoking and fast-food diet,” said Jacqueline Angel, a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs.
She adds that Latino culture can make life a struggle, not only for those ill and aging, but for the family members that take care of them.
Angel adds, “Many Latinos spend their working lives in low-paying jobs that preclude saving for retirement. Even those who are eligible for Social Security often receive low benefits and rely heavily on publicly funded programs such as Medicaid that are at risk of continuing cutbacks and restructuring. The tight economy also affects younger Latinos, with the escalating cost of living often making it difficult to support themselves and their children, much less their aging parents. The high unemployment rate for Latinos — 11.3 percent in March 2011 — further exacerbates the problem.”