The protective effect of neighborhood composition on increasing frailty among older Mexican Americans: a barrio advantage?

J Aging Health. 2011 Oct;23(7):1189-217. doi: 10.1177/0898264311421961.


Objective: Little is known about the nature of the frailty syndrome in older Hispanics who are projected to be the largest minority older population by 2050. The authors examine prospectively the relationship between medical, psychosocial, and neighborhood factors and increasing frailty in a community-dwelling sample of Mexican Americans older than 75 years.

Method: Based on a modified version of the Cardiovascular Health Study Frailty Index, the authors examine 2-year follow-up data from the Hispanic Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (H-EPESE) to ascertain the rates and determinants of increasing frailty among 2,069 Mexican American adults 75+ years of age at baseline.

Results: Respondents at risk of increasing frailty live in a less ethnically dense Mexican-American neighborhood, are older, do not have private insurance or Medicare, have higher levels of medical conditions, have lower levels of cognitive functioning, and report less positive affect.

Discussion: Personal as well as neighborhood characteristics confer protective effects on individual health in this representative, well-characterized sample of older Mexican Americans. Potential mechanisms that may be implicated in the protective effect of ethnically homogenous communities are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • New Mexico
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas