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Medical News & Perspectives |

Ethnic Shifts Raise Issues in Elder Care

Rebecca Voelker
JAMA. 2010;303(4):321. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1978.
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Baby boomers may seem like a thundering herd about to trample the US health care system with a raft of age-related chronic illnesses. But these soon-to-be seniors will challenge health professionals in ways that go beyond their sheer numbers.

The leading edge of boomers who reach age 65 years in 2011 will usher in the most diverse population of seniors in the country's history. By 2030, the US Census Bureau projects that the proportion of whites aged 65 years or older will decline by 11% while the older black population increases by 25%. The percentages of Hispanic and Asian elderly are expected to nearly double (http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p23-209.pdf).

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The impact of chronic illness can vary among increasingly diverse elderly populations. Differences in the ways in which pain and frailty affect ethnic elderly are being studied.

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