Instrumental activity of daily living limitations and supports in a clinic population of low-income Puerto Rican elderly adults with chronic diseases

Luis E. Zayas, Angela M. Wisniewski, Teri Kennedy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Latino older adults in the United States have disproportionately high rates of chronic and disabling medical conditions. Puerto Ricans have a higher prevalence of several chronic medical conditions and higher rates of functional disability than other Latinos. Earlier studies have documented that Puerto Rican older adults traditionally have relied mostly on family members for assistance with their functional needs, with low use of formal support services, but little is known about their functional help needs and caregiving practices. This study examined independent living and caregiving practices of community-dwelling Puerto Rican older adults in western New York using a mixed-methods approach with a sample of 49 individuals attending an inner-city primary care clinic. Standard instruments were used to obtain information on socioeconomic and health status and functional ability. Forty participants who needed help with any instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) were probed qualitatively for how their needs were addressed. Participants averaged six chronic medical conditions, mean age was 76.2 ± 5.3, most reported annual household income of $15,000 or less and had low fluency in English, and all had healthcare insurance. For the most part, participants' children and spouses were primary caregivers, and few used formal support services. Nearly one-third reported having insufficient help. Qualitative findings elucidated how IADL needs were addressed. In this sample of indigent Puerto Rican older adults, most needed help with IADLs. Although family members most often helped, one-third had unmet or undermet needs. Linguistically and culturally congruent formal support services are still needed for Puerto Rican older adults and their family caregivers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1789-1795
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - Oct 2013


    • Hispanic Americans
    • frail older adults
    • minority health
    • self-care
    • social support

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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