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Spring 2014
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No Place Like Home
Hispanic seniors tend to live in lower-quality nursing homes.
Hispanic senior citizens receive a lower quality of care compared to that of their white counterparts, according to new research from Brown University.

A team led by Mary Fennell, professor of sociology and community health, found that Hispanic elderly are  more likely than whites to live in nursing homes of poor quality. The research follows up and expands upon a landmark 2007 study that suggested that blacks are more likely than whites to live in poor-quality nursing  homes.

Fennell and her team also observe that elder care is changing among Hispanic families in the United States. Adult daughters at home have traditionally handled elder care, but acculturation and financial issues have led a growing number of young Hispanic women to work outside the home. As a result, Fennell says, the loss of home caregivers and the dramatic growth of the elderly Hispanic population has led to a rise in the  percentage of Hispanic residents in nursing homes, from 5 percent in 2000 to 6.4 percent in 2005.

The impact of substandard nursing home care is a complex issue, says Fennell. Residents are often already suffering from serious health problems that require expensive, high-level care. Once placed in a nursing  home, the patient is then often caught in a spiral of lower quality of life and chronic illness without a way out.

Details of the study were featured in the January 2010 issue of Health Affairs.
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