This study explores the association between social support and chronic disease self-management among older adults of Mexican heritage who live in the U.S. and Mexico. We hypothesize that social support increases the ability to manage hypertension and Type 2 (T2) diabetes, regardless of place of residence. We also investigate if differences in country of residence and health system factors influence the ability to manage chronic conditions. Older adults 65 years or older from Los Angeles (LA) and Mexico City (CDMX), with diagnosed hypertension or T2 diabetes (self-reported), attending government agencies, participated in the study. The statistical analyses investigate differences between older adults in LA and CDMX; identify the association between social support and chronic disease self-management; and examine the role of T2 diabetes treatment, testing and complications on self-management. Our study findings show that social support was a statistically significant predictor of improved T2 diabetes self-management (37%–51%, p < 0.05). The association between social support and hypertension self-management was only significant (90% confidence level) for adherence to weight management and increased alcohol consumption. Our study did not identify statistically significant differences in social support between LA and CDMX. However, almost 40% of sampled older adults were at risk of social isolation, signaling a vulnerable population that needs to be targeted by health and social systems in the U.S. and Mexico. Our study also shows that social support is a strong predictor of improved T2 diabetes management in the U.S. and Mexico. While older adults in the U.S. and Mexico reported similar access to care and health insurance coverage, higher adherence to low salt diets in LA and reduced coverage of glucose testing in CDMX could signal areas of opportunity for policymakers. Health care providers in both countries need to identify ways of improving adherence to physical activity and weight management.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Older adults
- Self-management for chronic disease
- Social support