We represent our nation’s diverse elder communities and are unified by an understanding that vulnerable older adults deserve access to needed resources, including healthcare services and financial security, so that they are able to age successfully with dignity, greater self-sufficiency and in the best possible health. Similar histories and experiences thread our organizations and drive our efforts. Our collective voice is rooted in perseverance, hard-earned wisdom and a desire to improve our country’s public policies and services for all older adults.
Historical Context: A Growing Majority, Still Underserved
As a large generation of “baby boomers” nears retirement age, this country’s population will become much older. According to the U.S. Census, the number of people aged 65 and older will increase from 37 million in 2006 to 71.5 million in 2030—an increase from 12 to 20 percent of the total U.S. population.[i]
Similarly, as the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse in its racial and ethnic composition, and as a generation of “out” LGBT people ages, addressing aging issues will require dedicated attention to diversity. The U.S. Census projects that communities of color will grow, as a percentage of the U.S. population, from about 35 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2050.[ii]
Despite the increased presence of diverse elders in the U.S., significant barriers place them at a disadvantage. For example, health care remains inaccessible to these communities—and a growing body of research reveals the detrimental effects of this inaccessibility. People of color are less likely to be insured; less likely to have choices of health care providers; and less likely to receive preventative treatment or care, despite higher rates of certain health problems. LGBT people, particularly LGBT people of color, experience similar disparities in health and health care—an inequality engendered by inaccessible health insurance, anti-LGBT stigma and a widespread lack of cultural competency.[iii]
Additionally, elders from diverse communities are often unable to access culturally and linguistically appropriate services, and as a result are denied a reasonable quality of life as they age. Moreover, they also face systemic barriers to financial security far beyond those faced by the general older adult population.
For a burgeoning population of diverse older adults, this means that millions are aging into a health care system already in poorer health, which exacerbates a host of other challenges. The Diverse Elders Coalition was formed to advocate for policy solutions that will reverse these trends.
To learn more about the Diverse Elders Coalition, please contact us.
[i] Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-Being (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008) http://www.agingstats.gov/agingstatsdotnet/Main_Site/Data/Data_2008.aspx.
[iii] Center for American Progress, How to Close the LGBT Health Disparities Gap: Disparities by Race and Ethnicity (Washington, DC: Center for America Progress, 2009) http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/12/pdf/lgbt_health_disparities_race.pdf; and Center for American Progress, Racial Health Disparities by the Numbers (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2010), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/01/health_disparity_numbers.htm.