There appears to be a “mortality cross-over” by age 85, according to IHS data. American Indians have a higher mortality than Whites up to age 75, from 75 to 84 the rates are much the same, and after age 85 American Indians have lower age specific mortality rates than Whites (John, 1999).

Death Rates Compared to Whites

American Indian older adultshave lower rates of death than Whites for the top four leading causes of death (heart diseases, malignant neoplasms, cerebrovascular diseases, and chronic obstructive lung disease), but higher death rates for all other causes of death (John, 1999,p.73). These causes of death have implications for health care providers and educators, as most are preventable to some degree and could be addressed by culturally-congruent intervention programs.

Excess deaths are reported among older American Indians for tuberculosis, diabetes, pneumonia, and cirrhosis (John, 1997; McCabe & Cuellar, 1994).