LATINO HEALTH: Elderly Latinos Are Twice as Likely to Have Diabetes
Latino seniors are twice as likely to have diabetes as their white counterparts and also have higher rates of complications from diabetes, according to results released Tuesday from the first year of the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. The study, funded by a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Aging, is following 1,789 participants for five years to study rates of cognitive impairment and dementia and the effects of diabetes and cardiovascular problems on the mental functioning of elderly Latinos. While the initial results do not show a significant difference in rates of dementia between Latinos and whites, diabetic Latinos have a 50% higher risk of dementia than non- diabetics because of a higher stroke risk. Diabetics are three times more likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to have kidney disease. Of the 30% of study participants who have diabetes, 43% have diabetic retinopathy and 40% have glaucoma. Mary Haan, director of the University of California-Davis Center for Aging and Health, said that the high diabetes rates could be caused by "Latinos' poor socioeconomic status, language and cultural barriers and lack of access to quality health care." She said that the study demonstrates "a strong need to reach out to the Latino community and to health care providers to improve efforts to prevent, screen and treat diabetes," adding, "To combat this, we need better screening, cultural and language training for health care providers, and we need to increase the number of Latino health care providers out there" (Chavez, Sacramento Bee, 5/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.