Diabetes Behaviors and Healthcare Needs of Border Mexican American Elders
Abstract Number: 888-P
Authors: NELDA MIER, MARCIA G. ORY, ANN V. MILLARD, MARGARET GRAHAM, XIAOHUI WANG, EDNA K. VILLARREAL, MARIA ALEN
Institutions: McAllen, TX, College Station, TX, Edinburg, TX
Results: The prevalence of diabetes is greater in older Hispanics than in older non-Hispanic whites, particularly along the United-States border region. Although it is well documented that diabetes control and access to healthcare are critical in preventing or delaying complications among older persons, little is known about diabetes self-management practices in Hispanic elders.
This study investigates the health status, self-care behaviors and healthcare needs of older Hispanics with diabetes at the Texas-Mexico border region. Adults 60 years and older with type 2 diabetes recruited from clinical and community settings in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas were surveyed (n=249). A majority of the respondents were female (66%), lived in medically underserved neighborhoods (60%), had less than a high school education (72%), were Spanish speakers (90%) and were born in Mexico (74%). Our findings indicate that 41% of the elders were unisured, a higher rate compared to state (25%) and (17%) national levels. Border respondents had higher prevalence rates of obesity, hypertension, cholesterol and depression than elders nationwide. A majority of respondents (62%) had high glucose levels above an acceptable level (90-130 mg/dl) and the frequency of retinopathy was almost twice the national rate. A majority of elders did not meet recommendations for vegetable/fruit intake, an adequate diet plan, and physical activity. Forty percent could not afford medications to treat their diabetes. Almost half of respondents did not get flu and pneumonia immunizations in the past year. The majority of the elders had never received diabetes education (74%).
Mexican American elders with diabetes in South Texas face many challenges in managing their illness, including: low income and education; poor diabetes self-care behaviors; difficulties in accessing healthcare services due to a lack of health insurance and not being able to afford medications; and the unavailability of diabetes education programs for this vulnerable group. This community assessment can guide much needed the implementation and dissemination of diabetes self-management interventions serving older Mexican Americans along the border.