In the face of the existing social hardships and constraints, older US minorities often face multiple difficulties. The situation is complicated if these vulnerable residents have physical or mental health problems. To assess the challenges of the target audience, relevant demographic characteristics will be considered, specific social and other constraints will be assessed, and the implications of such problems on others will be reviewed. Recommendations will be given to improve the current situation at different levels.
In the United States, millions of minorities live, and many of them experience severe challenges due to the lack of an opportunity to count on qualified medical care. In particular, physical and mental health problems are the main topic to be considered in different contexts, including social, legislative, and other implications. The relevance of drawing attention to this topic is justified in view of the crucial health disparities observed among older adults belonging to minority population groups.
Physical and Mental Healthcare Problems
The biological and physical effects of aging lead to greater physical and mental health challenges among the elderly population. The target audience’s perception of their health is documented in government estimates of chronic health conditions among older adults in the US (Department of Health & Human Services, 2016).
Locally, older adults related to minority groups in the United States have challenges with accessing healthcare services. Based on the official statistics of 2020, the number of reported cases of unmet needs in target patients with mental problems is high (“2020 adult data,” 2021). This proves the significance of increasing the access of individual citizens to medical services, both at the national and local levels.
The statistics on the prevalence of the issue associated with physical and mental health problems among elderly minority groups can be measured by days of activities missed. In this case, poor mental and physical health indicators are the main variables. According to Kent (2017), nationally, American Indians and Alaska natives are the most vulnerable categories of the population. From the perspective of ethnicity, the multiethnic group experiences the most challenging impacts of the problems in question (Kent, 2017).
The issue of mental and physical health problems among the elderly minority population globally can be represented in a statistical ratio. According to Chang et al. (2020), these problems are among the most acute. However, limited access to medical services is the most critical issue, which proves the relevance of measures aimed to increase the access of older adults to qualified healthcare assistance.
Vulnerable Elderly Population
Racial and ethnic minorities suffer low income and wealth disparities as compared to non-Hispanic and African-American citizens. The data from the Department of Health & Human Services (2016) indicate that the median household income for Hispanics and African-Americans is 61% of the median for the majority group, the whites. Wealth displays even greater inequality, with Hispanics’ and African-Americans’ household wealth being $6 723 and $6,127, respectively. It is this disparity in wealth that has led to health disparities among minority groups in the United States. This issue is critical because, with most of the elderly population among minority groups continuing to grow, health disparities also tend to grow too.
According to the data provided by the Administration for Community Living (2020), the minority groups in question, in particular, African-Americans and Hispanics, account for 9% and 7% of the total population of the country, respectively. Most of these citizens are concentrated in the eastern United States. In terms of income, 18.9% of African-Americans and 19.5% of Hispanics are below the poverty line, which is extremely high.
Based on the statistics obtained from the Administration for Community Living (2020), the criteria of age and gender differences in the two categories considered and outweigh African-Americans. In terms of marital status and life expectancy, Hispanics show higher rates. At the same time, the percentage of the elderly population with a school education is higher among African-Americans.
The rapid increase in Medicare costs and other healthcare costs makes it even harder for minority groups to access healthcare services. According to 2017 data, more than seven million elderly people live below the poverty line (Administration for Community Living, 2020). The situation is complicated by the fact that the cost of healthcare services is constantly growing, which creates additional difficulties for the target audience and prevents them from obtaining qualified care at an affordable cost (National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, 2021).
Healthcare Access Challenges
Older adults among minority groups have lower access to preventive medical services, Intensive Care Units (ICU), and advanced technological procedures. Osborn et al. (2017) note that with the differences in levels of accessibility of the elderly American population to vital inpatient hospital services, including ICU, the diversity is even wider concerning pre-hospital evacuation from home to healthcare institution using professional ambulance services and post-hospital rehabilitation services.
The protraction of healthcare disparities among minority groups has led to physical and mental health problems. Medicare is known to cover only one-half of their healthcare costs, thereby forcing many of them to pay much to count on comprehensive care. Some healthcare institutions and physicians do not accept Medicare, which means that they will even pay higher amounts. In addition, Medicare only covers little or no amount for long-term care in nursing homes among other institutions (National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, 2021). Considering these factors, older Americans among minority groups face high medical expenses or pay high premiums for private health insurance.
Social Relationships and Interactions
Due to physical and mental health problems, older minorities face crucial difficulties in establishing social interactions. As Trinh et al. (2019) note, these people often experience depressive symptoms due to the lack of communication. In addition, interactions with family members are often difficult due to the difficulties caring for these people requires. Under limited social opportunities, they cannot use modern means of communication comprehensively, for instance, social media, which narrows their interaction opportunities.
Due to the aforementioned social challenges and constraints, elderly minorities with physical or mental health problems tend to experience significant emotional stress. Due to progressive diseases, their basic functions of thinking are impaired, which is reflected in depressive disorders. The morale is aggravated due to the lack of the necessary help (O’Brien et al., 2019). Concomitant disorders develop against the background of stressful conditions, which is an additional hardship.
In conditions of limitations caused by physical and/or mental health problems, this category of older minorities experiences physical hardships. In particular, Hutchison (2019) notes the appearance of signs of aggressive behavior manifested in attempts to physically harm others. Mobility is limited, which is largely due to pain caused by the lack of adequate care and inappropriate medication control. Coordination among older adults is poor, which carries the risk of falls and related threats, such as fractures.
Social Impacts of the Problem
The considered challenges have impacted not only older adults related to ethnic minorities themselves but also others. For instance, on a social level, family relationships are unstable, and children and spouses are in dire straits. Relatives are forced to provide comprehensive care, which is a significant burden for them. The church becomes an institution to which older adults turn in search of spiritual peace (Trinh et al., 2019). In addition, living in the neighborhood with the vulnerable population in question can be complicated due to manifestations of deviant behavior on their part.
The medical staff is another party that can also experience negative implications for the life of elderly ethnic minorities with mental or physical health problems. Various specialists are involved to provide the necessary assistance to the target population, but in the case of a lack of resources or personnel, public pressure increases. In addition, physicians are often limited in information about specific patients due to their poor family history, which is necessary for a comprehensive assessment of health status (Alzheimer’s Association, 2017). All these factors create additional challenges for healthcare employees and cause increased stress and anxiety due to the inability to provide the necessary assistance to vulnerable patients.
The challenges of this population group are reflected in the work of policymakers and are associated with constant demands to adapt to the existing legislation (Niles, 2021). Governments at various levels face constant complaints from older adults, which suggests the need for comprehensive local and federal oversight. Moreover, in light of the high media activity, situations associated with gaps in the current legislation often become the subject of public discussion and condemnation.
As a vulnerable population group under consideration, older ethnic minorities in the United States are examined, and the focus is on citizens with physical and mental health problems. Based on the review of their demographic characteristics, one can note that they make up a relatively large percentage of the country’s total population. The analysis of their social, emotional, and physical challenges proves the need to attract attention at different levels to the problems of these people. Strengthening legislation, helping medical communities, and raising awareness of the problem globally are evaluated as potentially effective measures.
2020 adult data. (2021). Mental Health America. Web.
Administration for Community Living. (2020). 2019 profile of older Americans. Web.
Alzheimer’s Association. 2017 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 13(4), 325-373.
Aponte-Soto, L. (2016). Minorities and bias: The big picture. Science, 353(6297), 357-358.
Chang, E. S., Kannoth, S., Levy, S., Wang, S. Y., Lee, J. E., & Levy, B. R. (2020). The global reach of ageism on older persons’ health: A systematic review. PloS One, 15(1), e0220857.
Department of Health & Human Services. A profile of older Americans: 2016. Web.
Hutchison, E. D. (2019). Dimensions of human behavior: The changing life course (6th ed.). Sage Publications.
Kent, J. (2017). In Medicare, mental health disparities impact ethnic minorities. Health IT Analytics. Web.
National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. (2021). African Americans and Medicare. Web.
Niles, N. J. (2021). Basics of the U.S. health care system (4th ed.). Jones &Bartlett Learning.
O’Brien, B., Shrestha, S., Stanley, M. A., Pargament, K. I., Cummings, J., Kunik, M. E., Fletcher, T. L., Cortes, J., Ramsey, D., & Amspoker, A. B. (2019). Positive and negative religious coping as predictors of distress among minority older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 34(1), 54-59.
Osborn, R., Doty, M. M., Moulds, D., Sarnak, D. O., & Shah, A. (2017). Older Americans were sicker and faced more financial barriers to health care than counterparts in other countries. Health Affairs, 36(12), 2123-2132.
Trinh, N. H. T., Bernard-Negron, R., & Ahmed, I. (2019). Mental health issues in racial and ethnic minority elderly. Current Psychiatry Reports, 21(10), 1-6