Limited English Proficiency and Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms Among Mexican American Older Adults

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Depressive symptoms, Depression trajectories, Latent growth curve modeling, Limited English proficiency, Mexican American older adults

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Background and Objectives: This study examined the effect of limited English proficiency (LEP) on trajectories of depressive symptoms among Mexican American older adults in the United States. Research Design and Methods: The sample was drawn from Waves 1 to 6 (1993–2007) of the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly (H-EPESE). A total of 2,945 Mexican American older adults were included in the analyses. A latent growth curve modeling was conducted. Results: After adjusting for covariates, results show that Mexican American older adults with LEP had higher levels of depressive symptoms than those with English proficiency (EP) at baseline as well as over a 14-year period. Differential trajectories were observed between those with LEP and EP over time, indicating that those with LEP had a significantly steeper curve of depressive symptom trajectories over time than those with EP. Discussion and Implications: These results suggest that LEP is a risk factor not merely for greater depressive symptomatology at each time point, but for an accelerated trajectory of depressive symptoms over time among Mexican American older adults. Overall, the findings emphasize the need to assist not only the informal support system of Mexican American older adults with LEP, but also the formal system.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Gerontologist, v. 59, issue 5, p. 856-864