Public Release: 

New survey of older Hispanics reveals many face language and cultural barriers to care

Fifth annual Long-Term Care Poll includes oversample of Hispanics 40 and older, explores attitudes about long-term care, and expectations and experiences with the health care system

NORC at the University of Chicago

Less than a quarter of Hispanics age 40 and older are confident that local home health aides, assisted living communities, or nursing homes can accommodate their cultural needs, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study reveals that 49 percent of older Hispanics have already faced language or cultural barriers as they navigate the health care system, with two-thirds experiencing stress or delays in getting care as a result.

"Planning for long-term care is a challenge for many people, but it appears that older Hispanics face additional obstacles," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "A majority of older Hispanics experienced difficulty finding a health care provider for themselves or a loved one who speaks their language, and nearly half have experienced communication issues getting care due to cultural barriers. These are significant hurdles to cross while planning for something as complicated as long-term care."

The population of Americans age 65 and older is expected to grow rapidly in the coming decades, with the majority of these seniors likely to require at least some support with daily activities. The Hispanic population in particular is expected to make up an increasing proportion of those age 65 and older in the coming years. To continue its study into the long-term care experiences of American families, The AP-NORC Center conducted its fifth annual Long-Term Care Poll in 2017 and oversampled older Hispanics to explore attitudes about ongoing living assistance, and expectations and experiences with the health care system.

Key findings include:

  • More than half of Hispanics age 40 and older have had difficulty finding a health care provider for themselves or a loved one who speaks their language, with 15 percent saying this has often been a problem.
  • About half have had difficulty communicating with a health care provider because of a cultural barrier (47 percent) or language barrier (44 percent).
  • Of those who have experienced cultural or language barriers in the health care system, two-thirds say it has resulted in additional stress or delays in getting care. Half say it resulted in additional time and effort to find resources to overcome that barrier.
  • Less than a quarter of Hispanics age 40 and older are confident that local home health aides (20 percent), assisted living communities (18 percent), or nursing homes (16 percent) can accommodate their cultural needs.
  • More than half of older Hispanics with long-term care experience say they felt respected, valued, supported, or satisfied during their time either providing or receiving care, though more than a third also say they felt frustrated, lonely, confused, or helpless.
  • Similar to adults overall, 62 percent of Hispanics age 40 and older say the United States is not well prepared to meet the needs of its aging population.
  • About 4 in 10 older Hispanics say their local area is doing a good job of providing assisted living facilities (42 percent), home health aides (39 percent), and nursing homes (37 percent) to meet the ongoing living assistance needs of its seniors.

The survey about long-term care has been conducted annually since 2013 by The AP-NORC Center, with principal funding from The SCAN Foundation. Collectively the surveys reveal widely held misperceptions about the extent of long-term care Americans are likely to need and about the costs of such care.

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About the Survey

This study, funded by The SCAN Foundation, was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Data were collected using AmeriSpeak®, NORC's probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. During the initial recruitment phase of the panel, randomly selected U.S. households were sampled with a known, non-zero probability of selection from the NORC National Sample Frame and then contacted by U.S. mail, email, telephone, and field interviewers (face-to-face). Staff from NORC at the University of Chicago, The Associated Press, and The SCAN Foundation collaborated on all aspects of the study.

Interviews for this survey were conducted between March 2 and March 29, 2017, with adults age 40 and older representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Panel members were randomly drawn from AmeriSpeak, and 1,341 completed the survey--1,106 via the web and 235 via telephone. The sample also included an oversample of Hispanic adults--310 Hispanics age 40 and older. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, depending on respondent preference. Respondents were offered a small monetary incentive ($3) for completing the survey. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 4.0 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. For the oversample of Hispanics, the margin of sampling error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 6.2 percentage points.

Complete survey findings are available at http://www.longtermcarepoll.org.

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world. http://www.apnorc.org

The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. http://www.ap.org

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or (703) 217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at boyer-ray@norc.org or (312) 330-6433; or Lauren Easton for AP at leaston@ap.org.

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