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Determining physical and mental health conditions present in older adult refugees.

Frost, C. J., Morgan, N. J., Allkhenfr, H., Dearden, S., Ess, R., Fawzan Albalawi, W., Berri, A., Benson, L. S., & Gren, L. H. (2018).  Determining physical and mental health conditions present in older adult refugees.  Gerontology.  First published online: 21 August 2018.

  • In 2017, there were over 65 million displaced persons at the global level, with approximately 23 million of these people living as refugees around the world. In this same year, the U.S. resettled 53,716 refugees, with the State of Utah receiving 954 of those refugees. Refugees, in general, often face health-related challenges upon resettlement. Since the health of aging refugee men and women is of growing concern, host communities face significant challenges in accommodating the health needs of a diverse refugee population. This study, a review of physical and mental health data from the Utah Department of Health, was undertaken in an effort to ascertain the prevalence of health conditions among refugee men and women 60 years and older arriving in Utah. Findings include information on diseases correlated with increasing age, such as hypertension, decreases in vision, arthritis, and low back pain, which are common among this population. Overall, most of the health conditions assessed affect women and men with a similar prevalence. Some notable exceptions are a history of torture and violence, and a propensity for tobacco use. When dealing with refugee men older than 60 years, providers should consider the psychological ramifications of having endured such atrocities, as well as introduction to evidence-based tobacco cessation programs. When working with refugee women of the same age, an increase in the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and urinary tract infections should be considered.


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