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Social support, stressors, and frailty among older Mexican American adults

TitleSocial support, stressors, and frailty among older Mexican American adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPeek, MK, Howrey, BT, Ternent, RS, Ray, LA, Ottenbacher, KJ
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc SciJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Volume67
Pagination755-64
Date PublishedNov
ISBN Number1758-5368 (Electronic)<br/>1079-5014 (Linking)
Accession Number23009957
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and Over, Comorbidity, Diabetes Mellitus/ethnology, Female, Frail Elderly/ statistics & numerical data, Health Status, Humans, Male, Mexican Americans/ statistics & numerical data, Quality of Life, Regression Analysis, Residence Characteristics/statistics & numerical data, Risk Factors, Social Support, Stress, Psychological/ethnology, United States/epidemiology
AbstractBACKGROUND: There is little research on the effects of stressors and social support on frailty. Older Mexican Americans, in particular, are at higher risk of medical conditions, such as diabetes, that could contribute to frailty. Given that the Mexican American population is rapidly growing in the United States, it is important to determine whether there are modifiable social factors related to frailty in this older group. METHOD: To address the influence of social support and stressors on frailty among older Mexican Americans, we utilized five waves of the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (Hispanic EPESE) to examine the impact of stressors and social support on frailty over a 12-year period. Using a modified version of the Fried and Walston Frailty Index, we estimated the effects of social support and stressors on frailty over time using trajectory modeling (SAS 9.2, PROC TRAJ). RESULTS: We first grouped respondents according to one of three trajectories: low, progressive moderate, and progressive high frailty. Second, we found that the effects of stressors and social support on frailty varied by trajectory and by type of stressor. Health-related stressors and financial strain were related to increases in frailty over time, whereas social support was related to less-steep increases in frailty. CONCLUSION: Frailty has been hypothesized to reflect age-related physiological vulnerability to stressors, and the analyses presented indicate partial support for this hypothesis in an older sample of Mexican Americans. Future research needs to incorporate measures of stressors and social support in examining those who become frail, especially in minority populations.