Prevalence of Health Conditions and Predictors of Mortality in Oldest Old Mexican Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites

Rafael Samper-Ternent, Yong Fang Kuo, Laura A. Ray, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, Kyriakos S. Markides, Soham Al Snih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: The oldest old represent a unique group of older adults. This group is rapidly growing worldwide and yet there are gaps in the knowledge related to their health condition. Ethnic differences in disease prevalence and mortality must be understood to better care for the oldest old. Objective: To compare prevalence of common health conditions and predictors of mortality in oldest old Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Methods: This study included 568 community-dwelling Mexican Americans (MA) aged 85 years and older from the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiological Study of the Elderly 2004-2005 and 933 non-Hispanic whites (NHW) of the same age from the Health and Retirement Study 2004. Measures included sociodemographic variables, self-reported medical conditions, activities of daily living (ADLs), and instrumental activities of daily living. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine 2-year mortality in both populations. Results: Heart attack was significantly more prevalent in oldest old NHW compared with MA, regardless of gender. Conversely, diabetes was significantly more prevalent among MA men and women compared with their NHW counterparts. Compared with NHW men, MA men had significantly higher prevalence of cognitive impairment and hypertension. Additionally, prevalence of hip fracture was significantly higher for MA women compared with NHW women. Significant differences in ADL disability were observed only between both groups of women, whereas significant differences in instrumental activities of daily living disability were observed only between men. MA men and women had higher prevalence of obesity compared with NHW. Predictors of 2-year mortality for both ethnic groups included older age, male gender, and ADL disability. Cognitive impairment was a mortality predictor only for NHW. Similarly, lung disease was a predictor only for MA. Conclusion: Health-related conditions that affect the oldest old vary by gender and ethnicity and entail careful evaluation and monitoring in the clinical setting. Better care requires inclusion of such differences as part of the comprehensive evaluation of the oldest old adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Mexican american
  • Mortality
  • Non-Hispanic white
  • Oldest old
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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