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Health and black older adults: Insights from a life-course perspective

TitleHealth and black older adults: Insights from a life-course perspective
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsSellers, SL, Govia, IO, Jackson, JS
Book TitleHealth issues in the Black community
PublisherJossey-Bass; US
CitySan Francisco, CA
ISBN Number978-0-470-43679-0 (Hardcover)
Accession NumberBook: 2009-19888-006
Keywords*Aging, *Blacks, *Health, *Health Disparities, *Life Span, Gerontology [2860], Health & Mental Health Treatment & Prevention [3300], health, black older adults, life course, human development, aging, health-race effects, ethnic and racial groups, well being, quality of life, social and historical and cultural context, Human Adulthood (18 yrs & older) Aged (65 yrs & older), Human Development, Quality of Life, Racial and Ethnic Differences, Racial and Ethnic Groups, Sociocultural Factors, us, Well Being
Abstract(from the chapter) For the most part, black people living in the United States have been portrayed in the scientific literature in a simplistic and undifferentiated manner. An underlying assumption of prior research has been that there is extensive homogeneity in values, motives, social and psychological statuses, and behaviors among black persons living in the United States. Though categorical treatment based on race may produce some group uniformity in attitudes and behaviors, a rich heterogeneity exists among blacks in these same status, attitudinal, and behavioral dimensions, as well as in their national and ethnic groups of origin. Recent studies show that older black Americans are a diverse and heterogeneous population possessing a wide array of group and personal resources. Older black Americans are one of the fastest growing segments of the population and, along with elders of other ethnic minority populations, in three decades will constitute a fifth of the over-65-year-old group. Projections indicate that the number of black persons aged 65 and older in the United States will increase from 8 to 14 percent by the year 2050. A large proportion of the future older black Americans of the twenty-first century have already been born. The tail of the baby boom cohort will reach age 65 in fewer than twenty years; a child born in 1998 will reach 65 in 2063. Human development, aging, and the life course are the central concerns in an approach to understanding ostensible health-race effects. Ethnic and racial groups have divergent life experiences in part because of differences in sociostructural, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions. These different experiences have significant influences, both positive and negative, on individual, family, and group well-being and health at all stages of the life course, ultimately influencing the adjustment to major life transitions (such as loss of spouse, retirement, and disability) in older ages. A life-course framework is needed to explore how social, historical, and cultural context influences and interacts with individual and group resources to both impede and facilitate the quality of life and health of successive cohorts of black Americans over the group life course, and in the nature of their individual human development and aging experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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