Limited but Not Disabled: The Objective Functional Limitations, Subjective Disability and Mortality among Elderly Mexican Americans

Phillip A. Cantu, University of Texas
Ronald Angel, University of Texas at Austin

This study investigates the relationship between objectively assessed functional capacity measured in terms of POMAs and subjective self-reported functional capacity assessed in terms of subjective (ADLs). The analysis focuses on those respondents whose self-reported capacities (ADls) are more positive than the objective measures, labeled as “health optimists”. We investigate the predictive capacity of health optimism on mortality for the elderly Mexican American population of the Southwest US. Using data from the H-EPESE we predict mortality among health optimists and health realists. Poisson models suggest that mortality rates are higher for “realists” than “optimists” but only significant for US Born Mexicans. US Born Male optimists’ life expectancies were 1.83 years longer, and female optimists had 3.2 year advantage. We discuss the implications of discrepancies between objectively and subjectively assessed functional capacity for understanding predictors of functional decline in the older Mexican-origin population.

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Presented in Session 57: Relationships between Migration, Immigration, and Aging