Racial Differences in Future Care Planning in Late Life

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Ethnicity and Health

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Objectives: Although many older adults fear frailty and loss of independence in late life, relatively few make plans for their future care. Such planning is particularly limited among racial minorities. Given the benefits of future care planning (FCP), it is important to understand factors that facilitate or hamper FCP in late life. Our study explored racial, demographic, and dispositional influences on thinking about and engagement in FCP among community-dwelling older adults. Design: This study utilized data from the Elderly Care Research Center’s longitudinal study of successful aging based on interviews with 409 older adults. Along with race, education and other demographic factors, we explored dispositional influences of optimism and religiosity on FCP using logistic regression. Results: African American older adults had significantly lower odds of executing FCP (β = 0.36, p < .05) when compared to White older adults. However, this estimate was no longer statistically significant after controlling for education, disability status, optimism, and religiosity. Older adults with higher education had significantly higher odds of thinking about and executing FCP. Higher level of optimism was associated with lower odds of FCP. Conclusions: Limited educational resources and the greater prevalence of dispositions of religiosity and optimism among African American older adults may contribute to their reluctance to engage in FCP in comparison to their white counterparts. Our findings offer practice implications indicating a need for interventions to encourage older adults, particularly racial minorities, to recognize and actively plan for their future care needs.


Future care plan; Disability; Education; Health conditions; Stress


Community-Based Research | Race and Ethnicity



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