The effect of medical conditions on the functional limitations of Mexican-American elderly

Kyriakos S. Markides, Christine A. Stroup-Benham, James S. Goodwin, Linda C. Perkowski, Michael Lichtenstein, Laura A. Ray

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119 Scopus citations


We examined the relationship of self-reported functional status to common medical conditions using a probability sample of 3050 noninstitutionalized Mexican-American men and women aged 65 or older and residing in the Southwestern United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas). All subjects were interviewed in person (n = 2,873) or by proxy (n = 177) in their homes during late 1993 and early 1994. The questionnaire obtained information on self-reported functional status and prevalence of arthritis, cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and hip fracture. The prevalence of medical conditions ranged from 4.1% for hip fracture to 40.8% for arthritis. Prevalence of impairments in seven activities of daily living ranged from 5.4% for eating to 11.7% for bathing, while 25.1% could not walk up and down stairs, and 28.9% could not walk a half mile without help. In multiple logistic regression analyses, previous diagnoses of stroke and hip fracture were most predictive of functional limitations, though all conditions examined (arthritis, cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and hip fracture) were independently associated with increased odds of impairment in some activities of daily living. In general, the odds for functional impairment associated with specific medical conditions were higher than those previously published for non-Hispanic white populations. The fact that Mexican-American elderly who live in the community and who have medical conditions, especially stroke and hip fracture, are at high risk for functional impairment probably reflects the low rate of institutionalization in this population and has implications for the provision of community-based long-term care services for Mexican-American elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-391
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1996


  • Aging
  • Hispanics
  • Mexican Americans
  • chronic disease
  • physical functioning disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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