Older Pakistani Americans

Adjustment Problems

New elderly immigrants have adjustment issues in the United States. In Pakistan, they are used to a more active social life and closely knit families. However, in the United States, adjustment to a new country, communication and language difficulties, and problems of identity all heighten the stress leading to depression and adjustment issues.

Hepatitis B Virus

Unlike the American population where only 1-2% is hepatitis B positive, the high carriers rate in the Pakistani population living in the US continues to put them at high risk for liver disease and liver cancer. According to Asian Health Coalition of Illinois the Indian/Pakistani population has a lower infection rate but a higher susceptibility rate (86%).

Cancer

Pakistani and Indian immigrant women in the U.S. are at higher risk for breast cancer compared to their counterparts in India and Pakistan and immigrant men are at higher risk for prostate cancer. The Pakistani immigrant population in the United States also experiences rising rates of lung and colon cancer, mirroring U.S. patterns.

The change in patterns of cancer is believe to be due to immigrants embracing the Western lifestyle of marrying later, having fewer children, getting less exercise and adopting a diet lower in fiber and higher in fat, alcohol and meat.

Also Pakistani Immigrants experience a better survival rate from cancer compared to the non-Hispanic white U.S. population.

Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

Similar to their Indian counterparts, Pakistanis overall are at high risk for coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. More specifically, Pakistani immigrant women are at high risk for dyslipidemia and therefore at high risk for cardiovascular disease compared to their American counterparts. Their nutritional habits place them at increased risk for high cholesterol and hypertension.

Tuberculosis

In Pakistan, TB is a public health problem with a high incidence. Proper screening and prophylaxis is indicated for this population.

Arthritis

There is an increased incidence of arthritis in Pakistani women mainly due to environmental factors. Obesity, a high fat diet and less walking also increase the risk.

Genetic Conditions

A study in the United Kingdom (Darr, 1988) showed that about 55% of Pakistani marriages were between first cousins. This may put them at a higher risk for certain diseases, such as the thalassemias.

Health Insurance

Approximately half of the Pakistani older adults living in United States do not have health insurance. Most of them do not work and are dependent on their children who cannot afford their parents’ health insurance. If they do work, they are either self-employed or they work in small businesses that don’t provide health insurance for them.

Dental Problems

Pakistani immigrants are at high risk for dental problems due to paan chewing and tobacco smoking. In addition, the high cost of dental care can be a financial burden.

Mental Health Problems

Poor social support and economic conditions are important mediators of mental health among immigrants. Also feelings of loneliness, insecurity, bitterness and anxiety increases incidence of mental problems.

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