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Article   |    
Ethnic Minority Elders: A Mental Health Research Agenda
F. M. Baker
Psychiatric Services 1992; doi:
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University of Maryland School of Medicine, 645 West Redwood Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

1992 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Although some data on medical problems of ethnic elders are available, little information on the mental health consequences of those problems exists. However, studies of middle-aged and older white persons with medical problems suggest that ehtnic elders with such problems may have increased rates of depressive illness and anxiety.The types of dementing illnesses found among ethnic elders and the burden of caregiving on their families are other areas in which research is needed. Data from nursing homes have shown that ethnic elders do not constitute a significant proportion of nursing home population and suggest that most ethnic elders reside with their families, does the extended family structure common in many ethnic groups decrease the burden of care for individual caregivers in these population?Other issues include whether there is a difference in the level of anxiety between ethnic elders who live in urban areas and those who live in rural areas. Does the increased risk for being the target of or being accidentally injured in a crime increase anxiety and produce hypervigilance in ethnic elders who are urban residents? If these factors are associated with increased anxiety, are urbandwelling ethnic elders with diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis at increased risk for morbidity or mortality from the combined effects of these conditions and anxiety?Answers to these questions are needed before specific strategies to increase the longevity and improve the health status of ethnic elders can be developed. Such a data base will help clinicians to engage elderly ethnic patients and their families in a more effective therapeutic alliance.

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