Immigrant seniors have worse health than others in GTA: Study

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A new study by Wellesley Institute says that there are significant differences in self-reported health and mental health for immigrant, racialized and non-English mother tongue seniors in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The study also finds that seniors from immigrants, racialized, and non-English mother tongue groups experience worse outcomes than their counterparts in various social determinants of health, including income, employment, and sense of belonging to their local community.

“This work offers an important contribution to current knowledge of seniors’ health inequities in the GTA,” says report author Seong-gee Um, a senior researcher at Wellesley Institute. “The growing ethnic and linguistic diversity in older populations is a critical area of research and policy and it requires increased attention.”

Among the key findings:
-Only 27% of recent immigrant seniors who have lived in Canada for 20 years or less perceive their health and excellent or very good compared to 52% of non-immigrant seniors.
-53% of recent immigrant seniors perceive their mental health as excellent or very good compared to 74% of non-immigrants seniors.
-67% of seniors whose mother tongue is not English report a strong or very strong sense of belonging, compared to 75% of seniors whose mother tongue is English.
-15% of racialized seniors report low or no income, more than twice as high as the rate for non-racialized seniors.
-What makes the issue worse for many South Asian seniors is that many don’t seek out help when it comes to mental health. It is a taboo and it is easier to live in denial. So many immigrants both young and old suffer mental health problems rather than risk the stigma attached to it if they seek out help. – CINEWS

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