AIDS AND AGING: A REALITY THAT DEMANDS OUR ATTENTION

Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of NHCOA

Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of NHCOA

The AID Institute’s 7th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) will be observed September 18, 2014 with the theme “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be!” For more information about HIV/AIDS and older Americans or to become involved with the campaign, visit www.NHAAAD.org.

Among diverse communities, the stigma of HIV is a cause of shame, embarrassment, and worse of all, denial and silence. When denial and silence are present, the lack of communication and information lead to myths and misinformation. Worst of all, silence results in increased infections and is inevitably compounded by stigma, which leads to people living with HIV who are undiagnosed and therefore, untreated.

In the U.S. alone, 1 out of 6 persons is unaware s/he is HIV positive. The reality is that older Americans are just at risk of HIV infection as younger age groups are.

[Learn more HIV statistics in the United States]

In fact, adults 55 years and older represented nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population living with HIV in 2010. The CDC estimates that by next year (2015), this number will double, which means that half of the people living with HIV in this country will be 50 years and older. There are several reasons why older Americans who are HIV+ may not be aware of their status:

  • HIV tests aren’t always included as part of the check up routine, and seniors tend to think they don’t know need to ask for one;
  • The signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging;
  • Older adults are less likely to discuss their sex lives or drug use with loved ones or a health care provider;
  • Myths and misinformation that lead seniors to believe that they are “too old” to get infected;
  • Lack of targeted public education*.

However, we should not only be concerned with reducing HIV infections among the older adult population.

Medical advances have allowed people with HIV who get treated— and stay in treatment— to lead longer, healthier lives. Yet, the success of these new treatments and the increased longevity of patients have led to new challenges to the proper prevention and care of older Americans living with HIV, especially those who are from diverse communities. There is a lack of research aimed at aging with HIV, as well as few prevention campaigns, clinical guidelines, demonstration projects and training initiatives targeting older adults living with HIV, particularly diverse seniors. While the Affordable Care Act does include provisions to support people living with HIV/AIDS, including older Americans, the public policy landscape is scarce when it comes to seniors and HIV/AIDS.

[Related content: Learn how the ACA is helping older Americans living with HIV.]

Older Americans with HIV are often excluded from major legislation, policy initiatives and programs— from the White House Conference on Aging, to the Older Americans Act and the Ryan White CARE Act, to the Medicaid expansion, and more.

Left unaddressed, generations of older adults with HIV/AIDS will lack the supports they need to age with dignity and in the best health possible. This is why the Diverse Elders Coalition in collaboration with ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America) released 8 recommendations that have the potential of dramatically improving the lives of diverse seniors, and all older Americans, living with HIV.

What you can do on National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

* To combat this, NHCOA is a partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, which is focused on reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. Through culturally and linguistically appropriate, and age sensitive outreach and education, NHCOA conducts HIV outreach and education among Hispanic older adults and families to dissipate the stigma and silence.

Additional Resources

www.cdc.gov/hiv

www.aids.gov

www.hhs.gov/ash/ohaidp

www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/HPW/HIV_AIDS

Posted by Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

Webinar: Marketplace Outreach for Diverse Populations – Thurs. Sept. 25 at 2pm EDT

cms                    DEC Logo enclosed

When: Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 2:00pm EDT

Webinar Link: https://webinar.cms.hhs.gov/marketplacedp92514/

Call in number: 1-877-267-1577        Meeting ID: 995 471 476

No advanced registration is required.

Speakers:

  • Jeanette Contreras, MPP, Outreach Lead – Partner Relations Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Jonathan Tran, California Policy and Advocacy Manager, Southeast Asia Action Resource Center (SEARAC)
  • Patrick Aitcheson, Interim National Coordinator, Diverse Elders Coalition

Who should attend? Advocates. Policy makers. Older adults. Funders. Anyone interested in learning more about ACA enrollment as we approach the start of year 2, especially lessons learned for enrolling and supporting typically difficult to reach populations such as Southeast Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians & Alaska Natives, and LGBT Americans.

What: Please join CMS and the Diverse Elders Coalition for a webinar that will highlight ACA Marketplace Year 2 enrollment guidance for immigrant families and auto-enrollment; Marketplace outreach resources and campaign materials; and lessons learned for reaching older people of color and LGBT older people.

Background: Year one open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act/ACA/Obamacare ran from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Over 9 million people obtained health coverage via the Marketplace and another 8 million people obtained Medicaid coverage. As year one open enrollment ended, educational needs continued regarding special enrollment periods, immigrant families, health insurance literacy and how to get the most from this new coverage. Year two open enrollment begins November 15. While year one enrollment brought much needed health coverage to many millions of people, not all communities were reached equally well. Language and cultural issues, lack of health literacy, and limited individualized enrollment support were among the barriers faced by certain communities. Many lessons were learned in year one on how to reach hard to reach populations and these lessons need to be shared and followed in order to boost coverage levels among older adults of color and LGBT older adults. This webinar will discuss the challenges and barriers to reaching Southeast Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and LGBT Americans and convey the lessons learned and tips that can be applied to boost year two success.

One last push – Getting the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorized in 2014

August in Washington, DC usually means Congressional recess, when all Congress members take a break from Washington and return to their districts. Depending on whom you ask, August in DC could either be a peaceful and quiet time or a time to schedule meetings and diligently prepare for Congress’ return post-Labor Day. For the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), it has been the latter. As we enter the last quarter of the year, NHCOA is focusing efforts on scheduling Hill visits to educate Congressional staffers and reiterate how critical it is for Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act as they return to Washington from their states and districts this week.

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is one of the most important laws for older adults, and as it nears its 50th Anniversary, it is in need of greater recognition. The programs of the OAA are also extremely important in allowing older adults to age in place, with dignity, and in the best possible health, as it authorizes a wide variety of programs focused on health, nutrition, job training, and caregiver support. The OAA, which expired in 2011, has not been renewed— or reauthorized— since. Each year, the various programs are funded individually through appropriations bills, but this is neither an efficient nor a sustainable method. Reauthorization is urgently needed!

As we’ve written in previous blogs, NHCOA strongly supports a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act—but it must happen before the end of 2014. While a straight reauthorization would be better than none, it would be more effective to have a reauthorization that accounts for the growing size and diversification of the older adult population and one whose needs are ever fluid and changing.

Thus far, there are four bills on record, asking for reauthorization: H.R. 4122 (Rep. Bonamici- Oregon), H.R. 3850 (Rep. Gibson, New York), S. 1562 (Sen. Sanders- Vermont) and S. 1028 (Sen. Sanders). Of these, S. 1562 is the most advanced in the legislative process, having been sent to committee, where it is currently stuck. It is this impasse that has delayed the much-needed reauthorization of the OAA.

Given that it is an election year and a change in the political climate might make it even harder for a committee compromise to be reached, NHCOA and its fellow Diverse Elders Coalition co-founders urge Congress to take action now before all the hard work put forth in the past year is lost and millions of America’s older adults lose access to programs and services which currently allow them to age in place and remain engaged and active members of their communities.

We ask Congress to take into account the millions of baby boomers who cannot wait for another year of political in-fighting and who urgently need these services in their local communities. While we understand that the list of urging and pressing matters awaiting Congress is long, it is important to highlight that OAA is equally as important to those whom it affects most, and through compromise and strong Congressional leadership, this Act can be reauthorized within the few legislative days left.

In the meantime, NHCOA and the DEC will continue to fight for the OAA on behalf of the millions of diverse seniors who rely on the services, programs, and funding this law provides.

Dr. Yanira Cruz is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

Related Older Americans Act posts:

The Ins and Outs of LGBT Caregiving

We, (those of us older than 50) are now finding out what Bette Davis knew, that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Those of us who are also lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) may have additional challenges including homophobia and heteronormativity, which can send us running back to the very closets we fought so hard to leave, according to Stein and colleagues in a 2010 article in the Journal of Gerontology Social Work.

Recently I did a study with African-American lesbians and gay males. All study participants experienced a sense of alienation, in the African-American and majority-LGBT communities, described consistently as “a hurt that lasts a long time.” They also talked of a sense of not being wanted in the mainstream population. More than half of the participants had been called names, whispered about or harassed because of being perceived as gay or lesbian. Not surprisingly, a majority of participants were not out to their family, at work, in church or to neighbors. Some revealed that they always “pass” as heterosexuals in the majority environment. This fear of being harassed or discriminated against, the fear of being outed and the lack of LGBT-welcoming photos and brochures in care environments, as well as on websites or in social media, translates into elders trying to stay “safe,” according to Pope et al. in a 2007 article in Adultspan Journal.

So what happens when these closeted elders need to access healthcare and other services, and need the support of family members, including adult children? It remains a difficult situation. Research has shown that a majority of LGBT elders’ age without a partner, compared to less than 40 percent of the overall older adult population aging without a partner, and 90 percent of LGBT elders have no children, compared to 20 percent of the overall older adult population being childless. Furthermore, LGBT elders with children are often estranged from or not out to those children. There is a poignant scene in the film Gen Silent where an older transgender woman needs her son’s support. He has been estranged from her for years. He finally and briefly comes into her life, but is unable to accept his now-female parent as anyone but “Dad.”

Remarkably, adult children who accept and care for their elder LGBT parents seem to be aware of the perceived need for their parents to be closeted. In a qualitative study in 2007 of caregivers of gay and lesbian older adults, one heterosexual adult son observed, “My dad’s generation was more conservative, more guarded… . So they are [more] reluctant to accept help… . My dad wouldn’t want to be stigmatized as a gay.”

Another adult child, a gay son, said, “They [staff in nursing homes or assisted living facilities] told me that it would be better to hide this aspect … the identity of my father.”

Upon further questioning, these adult children articulated that they often faced overt and covert discrimination when accessing services while caring for their elder parents. The discrimination seemed to be based on the perception of the elder being gay or lesbian. In some cases, caregivers were reluctant to leave parents in institutions because of the increased vulnerability of being old and LGBT. Adult children caring for LGBT parents felt the combined perceived or actual oppressions of heterosexism and ageism directed toward their parents.

Clearly, institutions that provide resources and respite to care recipients and caregivers need training in cultural competency to create positive social environments for the closeted LGBT elder and their adult children. Moreover, additional research is required to investigate the outcomes of caregiving among this heretofore invisible group.

 

Dr. Imani Woody is the principal of IWF Consulting, LLC, president and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, Inc. and the SAGE Metro DC representative to SAGENet – SAGE’s network of local affiliates around the country – that work to reduce isolation, improve financial security and enhance quality of life for LGBT older adults. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

This article by Dr. Imani Woody originally appeared on the American Society on Aging’s blog. Read it here.

Other articles in this series from the editorial committee of ASA’s LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN)

Protect your Marketplace health coverage by resolving data inconsistencies by Friday, September 5!

Diana Moschos - pic

Diana Moschos – NHCOA

Over the past several weeks, the Health Insurance Marketplace has been reaching out to consumers who have information on their applications which doesn’t match the data on file. In order to continue staying covered by the Marketplace, these consumers have been contacted by mail, email, and phone to submit additional documentation to clarify the inconsistencies.

The deadline to submit this documentation is Friday, September 5.

Failure to meet this deadline can result in loss of health care coverage. It can also affect any premium tax credits or cost-sharing assistance you were qualified for.

Therefore, we are helping spread the word within our communities to ensure that every consumer has fair notice and is able to take appropriate action. There are several ways to ensure you or a loved one maintains health care coverage in the Marketplace:

  • Through the Marketplace online account: Log in to your account and select your application. Click on Application Details on the menu located on the left side of your screen. On the next screen you will see a list of “inconsistencies”, which you can resolve one-by-one by uploading the solicited document. [Please be sure to not use the following characters in the name of the files uploaded: / \ : * ? “ < > |.]
  • Through the Marketplace toll-free number: You can verify if the documents you submitted were received or get your questions answered by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. When you call, tell the representative you received a “data matching warning notice.” [TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.]
  • Through local certified Navigators in your community: There are many local organizations who are state and federally certified to assist Marketplace customers, such as the NHCOA Navigators, which provide assistance in Miami-Dade County, Florida and Dallas County, Texas, particularly among monolingual Hispanics. Use Find Local Help to identify local navigators in your area for one-on-one, in-person assistance.

Additional Resources

HealthCare.Gov blog

Healthcare.Gov Twitter [English]

CuidadodeSalud.Gov Twitter [Spanish]

For Spanish language assistance in Miami-Dade County, Florida and Dallas County, Texas, click here.

Post by Diana Moschos, the Senior Communications Associate for the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

Vaccinations are not just for kids

Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of NHCOA

Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of NHCOA

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), and when it comes to vaccines, it’s important to keep in mind that immunizations are not just for kids – we all need to get vaccinated at different points throughout our lifetimes. That is why it is important for older adults to know what vaccines they may need, where they are administered, and receive encouragement from their trusted health care providers and loved ones to get immunized.

The fact is that the existence of vaccines is the one of the reasons we are able to live longer, healthier lives. Diseases that used to be deadly are now preventable, and NIAM presents an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across one’s lifespan.

As one of several DEC founding members dedicated to improving the lives of our diverse seniors across the country, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) knows that keeping up with the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule is a key part of staying healthy for all older Americans. Therefore, in commemoration of NIAM, here are five reasons why older Americans should get vaccinated:

1. Vaccines are not just for kids.

Vaccines are an important part of a person’s preventive care at all stages of life, not just childhood.

2. Vaccines are an important step in protecting adults against serious, often deadly diseases.

While it may not seem to make sense, the truth is that vaccinations are necessary throughout childhood and beyond. Every year the CDC issues vaccine recommendations based on the latest research on vaccine safety, effectiveness and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.

[Click here to see the 2014 CDC adult vaccination schedule by age group. A Spanish version is available as well.]

3. Vaccines can protect older adults from serious and sometimes deadly diseases.

The CDC recommends older adults get vaccinated to prevent serious diseases such as the flu (influenza), shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis and whooping cough. Many of these diseases are common in the United States and therefore all adults— especially diverse elders—can benefit from immunization.

There are also vaccines that prevent cancer, such as the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine prevents chronic hepatitis B, which in turn prevents liver cancer.

The reality is that avoiding vaccinations results in the needless hospitalizations of thousands adults in the U.S., and in the worst of cases, death. However, perhaps the most important function of vaccines is to prevent the spread of certain diseases among those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, which includes diverse seniors.

[Click here to find out which vaccinations are covered by Medicare.]
[The new ACA Health Insurance Marketplace plans cover vaccinations as free preventive services with no copay or coinsurance charges]

4. Most adults have probably not received all the immunizations they need to stay healthy.

The rates of adult immunizations among older adults aren’t as high as they should be, exposing them and their loved ones to preventable diseases. And, although many older adults may consider immunizations to be important, many may be unaware that they need to get vaccinated as well, which is why health care professionals play an important role in informing their patients about the need to get immunized. Seniors should also talk to their health care providers about which vaccines are best for them given their specific health situation.

[Click here to find out your closest vaccination provider]

5. Vaccines are safe.

All vaccines are thoroughly tested before being released to the general public to ensure they are safe for use. While vaccines do have side effects, they are usually minor and temporary. It is possible for some people to have allergic reactions to certain vaccines, but serious and long-term effects are rare.

The week of August 24-30 is dedicated to raising vaccination awareness among adults, including diverse seniors. NHCOA is a proud partner of the CDC in helping inform and raise awareness about getting vaccinated among Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers through its signature immunizations program, Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated). Vacunémonos is a culturally, linguistically, and age sensitive community intervention that aims at increasing adult vaccination rates among Hispanics. For more information, please visit www.nhcoa.org.

Additional Resources

NHCOA Vacunémonos Pinterest Board [Bilingual]
NHCOA Vacunémonos Immunization Brochure [Spanish]

Posted by Maria Eugenia Hernandez-Lane, Vice President of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

Rethinking the Term “Senior Citizen”

Today is National Senior Citizen’s Day, which is a great opportunity to look at the role age and aging play in all of our lives. Many people are familiar with terms like racism or sexism—but here at SAGE we spend a lot of time thinking about ageism. Ageism is the act of stereotyping and forming prejudices about people or groups based on their age. It can take many forms, from assuming that all teenagers are irresponsible to passing over an older adult’s job application because of their age.

Senior Citizens blog post picOne important way that we combat these different ‘-isms’ is to learn how to speak to others with respect and understanding. The language we use in our everyday lives has a tremendous impact, not only on our personal relationships, but on the national conversation around diversity and inclusion. For example, when I’m conducting our LGBT cultural competency trainings, I have all the participants say ‘LGBT’ out loud four or five times. After this activity people that have never even said the word LGBT can say it smoothly and without stumbling over the letters, which is an important way to demonstrate that you’re an ally to the LGBT community!

Given the power of language, today is a great time to explain why SAGE chooses not to use the term “senior citizen” in our work. Calling someone a senior citizen places them into a category simply based on their age. Along with this category come many other assumptions about what older adults can and cannot do.

‘Senior citizen’ is just one of a few terms used to describe older adults that are increasingly rejected. A 2012 article in the New York Times discussed this shift in language, noting that other terms like ‘elderly’ are also falling out of favor.

Whatever the label, anytime you see someone first and foremost as a member of a group, it makes it more difficult to see that person in all of their uniqueness. At SAGE we strive to see everyone as individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses, not just as members of a certain generation. Removing ageist assumptions or language for our collective vocabulary is an important part of doing our work, and that’s why we don’t call our constituents senior citizens.

There may be times when it’s very important to talk about older people as a group, and in those moments we prefer the term ‘older adults’. It allows us to speak to a set of shared experiences, without bringing along a lot of the baggage and stereotypes associated with ‘senior citizens’.

After all, as one style guide points out, we don’t refer to people under age 50 as ‘junior citizens,’ so why create a special category just for older people?

What term do you use to describe yourself? Which terms do you love, and which do you dislike? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by Tim Johnston, PhD. Tim is Manager of Education and Training for Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders’ National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.

This post originally appeared on the SAGE Blog.

Elder Mistreatment in the AAPI Community? What do we know?

Many AAPI leaders list elder abuse as a top 10 priority issue according to a National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) survey of community based organizations. However, elder abuse is not well addressed in the AAPI communities. How much do we know about the seriousness of elder abuse in the AAPI community? Do AAPI elders experience elder abuse differently from other older adults because of their language barriers and cultural background? Read More

Salud y Bienestar: Helping Latino Seniors and Families Prevent and Manage Diabetes

Obesity is a foothold for chronic diseases, such as diabetes, posing a particularly serious health challenge for all diverse communities, including Hispanic older adults. Sadly, the number of Latino diabetics increases with age: one out of three Hispanic older adults suffer from the disease, which is often accompanied by related complications such as kidney disease, amputations, heart disease, high blood pressure, and nerve damage. While factors such as obesity predispose Latinos to diabetes, there are also myriad cultural, educational, linguistic, financial, and institutional barriers that keep Hispanics from being diagnosed in the first place. In fact, two of out every seven diabetics in the United States are undiagnosed. This is poses a significant health threat and challenge not only among families, but also in the realm of public health. Read More

Working Successfully with diverse older adult populations: Get to know the individual and build trust

By Alula Jimenez Torres

Even though different racial and ethnic minority groups have unique issues, they also face common challenges. To successfully work with these populations, providers must get to know the people they are serving. These were the key takeaways from “Working Successfully with Diverse Older Adult Populations,” a presentation by the National Aging Resource Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Minority Seniors at the 2014 n4a Conference and Tradeshow. Read More

Quyen Dinh and SEARAC – Giving voice to the Southeast Asian American community and its economic security concerns

Quyen picA conversation with Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

May was AAPI Heritage Month and this year’s theme was “I Am Beyond.” It is a phrase meant to evoke the rich and complex diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. What does AAPI Heritage mean to you personally and as the ED of SEARAC?

I grew up in Orange County, California, and San Jose, California, homes to two of the largest Vietnamese American communities in the nation. Growing up in these communities to me meant seeing a lot of Asian faces everyday everywhere: at school, at the grocery store, at the library, and driving down the street looking at cars passing by. So for me, every day was a celebration of Asian Americans being integrated in local communities. I didn’t know that AAPI heritage month existed. I got to live AAPI heritage month every day if what AAPI heritage means is celebration of AAPI culture and identity. Read More

Hepatitis, HIV and Older Americans: Get the Facts and Take Action

Diana Moschos - picBy Diana Moschos

World Hepatitis Day is one of four official disease-specific world health days

While viral hepatitis is the 8th leading cause of death in the world, it is a largely silent killer. Each year, the disease kills approximately 1.5 million people worldwide. In the United States, the CDC estimates 4.4 million people live with chronic hepatitis. However, most are unaware they are infected. Four years ago the World Health Organization designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness and encourage action, especially among vulnerable and high-risk populations, including older Americans. Viral hepatitis is a life-threatening disease on its own, but often times it can be present along with other life-threatening infections, such as HIV. Read More

Vietnamese Poetry: Reflections on the sweetness and bitterness of growing older

By Ngô Văn Diệm

Ngô Văn Diệm came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1981. In these poems, Mr. Ngô reflects beautifully on the sweetness and bitterness of growing older, and the ephemeral qualities of memory and of life itself.

Mr. Ngô is also the father of Ivy Ngo, a former SEARAC aging policy associate who was instrumental in developing the early work of the Diverse Elders Coalition. Today, Ivy continues her path as an aging advocate at the Columbia School of Social Work. Ivy translated her father’s poems into English. Read More

Senior Wellness Fairs: Bringing Health Education and Screening to a Vulnerable Population

By Eun Jeong Lee

By Eun Jeong Lee

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older adults are often in vulnerable positions when it comes to taking care of their health. AAPI seniors face many barriers including: a lack of adequate health insurance, language barriers, cultural beliefs, changes in their diet after immigration, and a lack of resources and information. Many older AAPI adults have less access to health screening opportunities compared to the general population. In order to help address these issues, senior health fairs can be a good way for AAPI seniors to check their health status.

Recently, the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) partnered with the American Heart Association (AHA) to host Senior Wellness Fairs in Seattle and Los Angeles. These fairs provided important educational presentations related to heart health by physicians and health professions, and provided free health screenings, including blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, dental screening, stroke test, eye sight to seniors. Read More

The NAPCA Helpline: A Critical Lifeline for Limited English Proficient Seniors

Think about the last time you had to call your credit card company to dispute a charge: navigating complex menus, explaining the problem multiple times, answering the customer representative’s questions, providing information to the representative from your nearly indecipherable credit card statement . . . now imagine if the representative spoke a language you didn’t understand and the phone menus and credit card statement were both in that language. Read More

Aging and HIV: New Insights, New Recommendations

by Kira Garcia

In the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most people diagnosed faced death within a few years, if not sooner. Thirty years on, much has changed; HIV has become a more manageable chronic illness and many people are aging with the disease.

The proof is in these startling statistics: it’s predicted that 50 percent of people with HIV in the U.S. will be age 50+ by 2015—and by 2020, more than 70 percent of Americans with HIV are expected to 50+.

With that in mind, SAGE, the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) and ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America) have created a report outlining eight recommendations to address the needs of a growing demographic of older adults with HIV, many of whom are LGBT and people of color. The full report, Eight Policy Recommendations for Improving the Health & Wellness of Older Adults with HIV, can be found online here. Read More

Enthusiasm and Partnerships Overcome the Vastness of Alaska for Healthcare Enrollment (National Minority Health Month)

In recognition of National Minority Health Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to the health disparities and health issues affecting diverse older adults during April. A new story will be shared every Wednesday with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of April.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) has a bold vision: to ensure that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. By working to ensure that all Alaska Native and American Indians in Alaska have health insurance, the ANTHC is helping to eliminate long entrenched health disparities. ANTHC was formed almost 20 years ago as a nonprofit health organization that offers quality health care services for all Alaska Natives and American Indians. Read More

A Video Review of Native American HIV/AIDS Issues

March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). NNHAAD is a national effort to raise awareness about how HIV/AIDS affects American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian people and to promote testing.

An Overview

  • HIV infection affects AI/AN in ways that are not always apparent because of their small population size.
  • The rate of HIV infection is 30 percent higher and the rate of AIDS is 50 percent higher among AI/AN compared with white Americans, according to HHS’ Office of Minority Health.
  • Compared with other races/ethnicities, AI/AN have poorer survival rates after an HIV diagnosis.
  • AI/AN face special HIV prevention challenges, including poverty and culturally based stigma.

The following five videos give us a window into the HIV/AIDS crisis facing Native Americans. Read More

Creative Approach Leads to Success in Enrolling American Indians and Alaska Natives in the New Mexico Health Insurance Marketplace

Roxane Spruce Bly

Roxane Spruce Bly

Recently, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) spoke with Roxane Spruce Bly, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, who has been leading the ACA outreach and enrollment effort for American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in New Mexico. Ms. Spruce Bly brings invaluable experience in the field of health policy research, analysis, and development. She is the Director of Healthcare Education and Outreach for Native American Professional Parent Resources (NAPPR), Inc. NAPPR is one of two navigator entities in New Mexico.

She reflects that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) got off to a rocky start but her team turned that barrier into an opportunity to focus on outreach and education. The older Indians they target are those in the 55–64 age group, too young to receive Medicare and yet perhaps ready to plan for their retirement or address a long standing health issue. Ms. Spruce Bly is excited to get the message out about health insurance in New Mexico. Her theory of change is that once people increase their knowledge they will in turn change their behavior. Her initial approach resulted in 441 inquiry calls which led to 269 appointments, culminating in 244 individuals signing up for coverage. Read More

As Parents Age, Asian-Americans Struggle to Obey a Cultural Code

This article by Tanzina Vega originally appeared in the New York Times

Savan Mok, a home health aide, assisting Oun Oy, 90, right, who had a stroke in 2012. Ms. Oy is from Cambodia and lives in Jenkintown, Pa., with her son and his wife, at rear. Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

Savan Mok, a home health aide, assisting Oun Oy, 90, right, who had a stroke in 2012. Ms. Oy is from Cambodia and lives in Jenkintown, Pa., with her son and his wife, at rear. Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times

SOUDERTON, Pa. — Two thick blankets wrapped in a cloth tie lay near a pillow on the red leather sofa in Phuong Lu’s living room. Doanh Nguyen, Ms. Lu’s 81-year-old mother, had prepared the blankets for a trip she wanted to take. “She’s ready to go to Vietnam,” Ms. Lu said.

But Ms. Nguyen would not be leaving. The doors were locked from the inside to prevent her from going anywhere — not into the snow that had coated the ground that day outside Ms. Lu’s suburban Philadelphia home, and certainly not to her home country, Vietnam. Read More

ACA: Vital to Diverse Older Adults – Don’t Be Left Out

With the start of the New Year, people across the country started coverage on insurance plans selected through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For racially and ethnically diverse and LGBT older adults, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Marketplace pose both the opportunity for better health and the challenge of possibly being left behind by a new program. The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) is now working to improve the health of the populations that it serves and to empower them to fully participate in the ACA.

A recent article by Kaiser Health News identifies some of the opportunities and challenges California’s Hispanic population face. The article highlights the tremendous help the Health Insurance Marketplace has been to Maria Garcia, who worked with a community health center to enroll herself and her husband in an insurance policy costing $36 per month after subsidies. The article also describes the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate enrollment assistance. Many Hispanic older adults enrolling in the Marketplace like to enroll with the help of a person that they trust. Health Care Navigators can also help diverse older adults overcome barriers such as lower levels of internet connected home computers and fear of putting personal information online. Read More

What Being American Indian Means to Me: In Recognition of Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month and November 29, 2013 is Native American Heritage Day. What does this mean to me? I am American Indian of Navajo descent. I was raised on the Navajo Nation all my life. Since I grew up on the Navajo Nation I thought the world was like me. I was taught in school that I am American and I accepted that. I was taught at home to be a good and capable person.

I had inadequate preparation in our public school so I never contemplated going off to college. My mother on the other hand had other dreams for me. She filled out my paperwork to attend the local community college. It was there that I began to consider going away to attend University, and of course, mother helped me to apply. Fortunately, I was able to graduate from the University with dual degrees in the discipline of human services. Today I am using the educational skills I acquired to help create better opportunities for Older Indians.

I know that many America Indian people gave up land, resources, language, culture and complete sovereignty in the name of the English colonization westward. Many atrocities were committed against American Indian People in the taking of the land and cultural livelihood. Read More

Reminder: One Month Left in Medicare Open Enrollment

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Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of year when beneficiaries can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for the following year. Each year Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15-December 7. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, and/or assist your loved ones in reviewing theirs. You can use the materials provided in NHCOA’s Medicare Open Enrollment toolkit to assist you in reviewing your options in order to find the coverage that best meets your needs. However, if you and your loved ones are satisfied with your current health plan, no action or change is required.

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older. The U.S. Federal government provides this health care service from revenue collected through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare for 10 years as an employee, you are most likely eligible for Medicare benefits.

Following the three C’s is a good criterion to keep in mind when reviewing your current plan and making the decision whether or not to make changes. Read More

The Puzzle that is Obamacare. Explained in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean & Vietnamese

Understanding the new Health Insurance Marketplace can feel a lot like piecing together a puzzle. Despite the setbacks, the Marketplace is up and running.  For community groups and advocates, it’s time to help our communities shop for health coverage that fits their many needs. For older adults, it’s time to get covered.

To make it simple, the Diverse Elders Coalition has created a simple flyer, “Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities,” which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace, as well as a rationale for the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the ACA or Obamacare) and older people of color, LGBT older people and older immigrants.  It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Our member organization, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)  has also created a special flyer on why the ACA matters to LGBT elders. Download here.

  • Share this flyer with older people—age 50 and older—in your life to effectively explain how they can apply for health insurance
  • Print this flyer for presentations, events or meetings to educate other leaders about why the ACA matters to older people of color, LGBT elders and older immigrants.

For more information on the ACA and its impact on diverse elders, visit diverseelders.org/our-health

Have a question about Obamacare and why it matters to diverse elders? Ask us on Twitter. @diverseelders Read More

WEBINAR: Why Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act Matters to Older People of Color and LGBT Older People

When: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 2-3pm EST
Register Now: http://bit.ly/1c0l5zd
Speakers: Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)
Michael Adams, Executive Director, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Who can attend? Advocates. Policy makers. Older Adults. Funders. Anyone interested in learning more about Obamacare and how it affects diverse older people. *There will also be additional information for funders on how they can support both national and state-specific work.

First 30 Minutes: Conversation with Dr. Cruz and Michael Adams about why Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act Matters to diverse older people. Learn about the opportunities, challenges and lessons learned.
Second Half of the Conversation: Dr. Cruz and Michael Adams will take your questions.

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION
The health coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect you, your loved ones and your communities. The Diverse Elders Coalition represents millions of diverse older people age 50+ who are among those affected by these expansions. They include the Health Insurance Marketplace, the Medicaid expansion, new benefits for elders 65+ on Medicare, and a range of protections that make health care more accessible for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people and older people of color. The number of uninsured older adults age 50-64 continues to rise—from 3.7 million in 2000 to 8.9 million in 2010. In addition, people of color make up more than half of the uninsured people in the U.S.— and research shows that people of color, across the age span, face significant disparities in physical and mental health. Additionally, many people of color delay care because of potential medical costs and out of fear of discrimination or cultural incompetence from medical providers. These issues are especially true for LGBT people of color who face challenges on multiple aspects of their identities. The ACA has the ability to create a path to better health by offering more affordable health insurance options, improving services and eliminating the usual obstacles. This webinar will highlight both national and state-specific examples of what is being done to ensure that older people know about the changes that are taking place under the ACA and how it affects them.

This webinar is in collaboration with Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) as part of their “Conversation with GIA” series.

Special thanks to our co-sponsors, The John A. Hartford Foundation and The California Wellness Foundation.

Southeast Asian American Elders and the Affordable Care Act

Historically Southeast Asian Americans have faced significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. These barriers have contributed to health disparities:

• Southeast Asian American communities experience high uninsurance rates; 26.7% of Hmong Americans live in poverty and 18.3% of Vietnamese Americans lack health coverage.

• Cervical cancer incidence rates are among the highest in the U.S. for Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian American women. Factors for this disparity have been attributed to low Pap smear rates, lack of preventive care prior to immigration and a lack of sensitivity by providers.

• Asian American adults aged 65 years and older were 30% less likely to have ever received the pneumonia shot compared to white adults of the same age group.

• One of the greatest health disparities between Southeast Asians and the general population is liver cancer, 80 percent of which is caused by chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Liver cancer rates for Vietnamese men are 13 times higher than rates for White men.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided many benefits to the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community, and in particular, its elder population. The positive impacts have continued with the start of Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The ACA’s benefits include: Read More

Attention Diverse Elders: Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period Starts Today!

Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is October 15 – December 7. This is when ALL people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. You can find information on 2014 plans by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov to learn all about Medicare. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) knows well that large numbers of older people of color and LGBT elders nationwide face financial difficulties, making Medicare critically important to their health and economic well-being. Did you know? 46% of Latinos, 43% of Asians, 52% of African Americans over the age of 55 and 92% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are covered by Medicare (based on different studies); and according to a national health study of LGBT older people, almost all (97%) had some form of healthcare insurance coverage, primarily through Medicare. Without Medicare, many older people of color and LGBT elders would be required to pay for health expenses on their own, accrue enormous debts, and likely not receive the health care they need. The Affordable Care Act has further strengthened this vital program.

HOW DOES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AFFECT MEDICARE?

Your Medicare coverage is protected. Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace established by ACA, so you don’t have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You don’t need to do anything with the Marketplace during Open Enrollment. Read More

National Indian Council on Aging: Then (Creation of NICOA) and Now (The Affordable Care Act – ACA)

The first National Indian Conference on Aging was sponsored by the National Tribal Chairman’s Association (NTCA) in Phoenix, Arizona on June 15-17, 1976. Close to 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people representing 171 tribes came together to speak of their needs and present recommendations for action to improve the quality of their lives. The meeting was coordinated by the National Tribal Chairman’s Association and led by President Wendell Chino.

First members of the National Indian Council on Aging

First members of the National Indian Council on Aging

Then: Creation of NICOA

In his address to the conference attendees Mr. Chino spoke at length about the history of contributions the American Indian/Alaska Native elders have given to this great country. He consistently reminded American Indian/Alaska Native and the US Congressional leaders that American Indians/Alaska Natives have a unique status as they are specifically mentioned in the US constitution. Robert J. Miller author of Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny, explains the following:

American Indian tribes have played a major role in the development and history of the United States and have engaged in official, diplomatic governmental relations with other sovereign governments from the first moment Europeans stepped foot on this continent. Indian tribes have been a part of the day to day political life of the United States and continue to have an important role in American life today. Tribes continue to have a government to government relationship with the United States and they continue to be sovereign governments with primary control and jurisdiction over their citizens and their territories. It is no surprise, then, that the relationship between Indian people, tribal governments and the United States is addressed in the United States Constitution. Read More

Hey California! New Health Insurance Options in 9 days!

In just 9 days, individuals across the nation will be able to begin enrolling in the new Health Insurance Marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Webinar - Don't Miss California's ACA Enrollment Bus

Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus

Please join SEARAC for a webinar so you and your organization are prepared to help community members access health insurance on DAY ONE! This webinar will be California-specific and will focus on what you need to know about the INDIVIDUAL MANDATE and how to get your organization ready to help community members with ENROLLMENT into Medi-Cal and Covered California. To register for the webinar, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/SEARACenrollmentbus

What: Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus

When: Thursday, September 26; 1pm – 2:30pm Pacific Time

National Grandparents Day – Grandparents Contributing More Despite Numerous Challenges

Since 1978, when the first Sunday following Labor Day was designated “National Grandparents Day“, the number of grandparents in the U.S. has been growing from 40 million (1980) to 65 million (2011) to an estimated 80 million (2020). Over time the roles of grandparents, especially those among diverse elder populations, have also shifted. Grandparents are now providing important caregiving support, raising our children, and are the backbone of multi-generational families.

Present and former NAPCA staff members (L to R) Cora McDonnell, Danny Principe, and Wah Kwong.

Present and former NAPCA staff members (L to R) Cora McDonnell, Danny Principe, & Wah Kwong.

Grandparents living in multi-generational households often face numerous challenges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under the age of 18. Of these, 594,000 grandparents have incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. Over 500,000 grandparents are foreign-born, and over 400,000 do not speak English at home and have limited English proficiency. Read More

Give Your Medicare Part D Coverage an Annual Checkup

October is an important month for adults needing to secure insurance coverage. Not only is October 1st open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace, but October 15th is the beginning of the Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period. Once enrolled in a prescription drug plan, it’s easy to forget the importance of checking annually to make sure your current plan is the most appropriate and cost effective.

The lack of in-language assistance available to Asian American and Pacific Islander elders makes it challenging for many to understand and to complete the enrollment process for important benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging was founded to ensure that Asian American and Pacific Islander seniors were able to effectively access the programs, services, and benefits that are available to all older adults. Thirty-four years later, NAPCA operates federal employment programs, promotes healthy aging initiatives, and assists limited English speaking elders to better navigate federal programs such as Medicare.

Young Ko is a Korean Helpline representative for NAPCA. (Nelson Tang/NAPCA)

Young Ko is a Korean Helpline representative for NAPCA. (Nelson Tang/NAPCA)

Read More

HHS awards $67 million to Navigators and recognizes the DEC member organizations as Champions for Coverage

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $67 million in grant awards to 105 Navigator grant applicants in Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces. These Navigator grantees and their staff will serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning this fall. Also today, HHS recognized more than 100 national organizations and businesses who have volunteered to help Americans learn about the health care coverage available in the Marketplace.  Read the full release here.

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) is pleased to announce that its member organizations, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) were among those organizations recognized as a Champion for Coverage. These champions pitch in to help consumers understand the coming options for quality, affordable coverage. The DEC will officially be recognized as a Champion for Coverage in the coming weeks. Click here to learn more about organizations participating in Champions for Coverage.

The coalition also congratulates NHCOA who were among the 106 Navigator awardees. NHCOA will deploy Navigators in Dade County, Florida, and Dallas County, Texas, to enroll the uninsured Hispanic population in these two counties with a focus on members of this population that are socially isolated due to cultural and linguistic differences. Click here for a list of Navigator awardees or more information about Navigators and other in-person assisters.

Be sure to continue coming back to diverseelders.org to stay updated on the health insurance marketplaces and their impact on diverse elders.

Language, Idioma, 語, ភាសា: Speaking limited English can pose unique challenges for older people

Map of people that speak Spanish at home.  Source: Badger, Emily, “Where 60 Million People in the U.S. Don’t Speak English at Home,” The Atlantic Cities

Map of people that speak Spanish at home. Source: Badger, Emily, “Where 60 Million People in the U.S. Don’t Speak English at Home,” The Atlantic Cities

According to the Census Bureau, about 20% of people speak a language other than English at home. That’s 1 in 5 people! And over the years, this number has only grown. The Census Bureau has developed a map that shows in which parts of the country these people live. What the map shows is that there are people whose preferred language is not English in all but the most sparsely populated parts of the country. Language access is a civil right, and these rights are reflected in federal law. It is also becoming more common to see instructions on packages, advertisements, and other messages translated into languages other than English, as well. When it comes to language access, the policies of the United States promote inclusion.

Despite these efforts at inclusion, accessing many government programs poses unique challenges for older adults with limited English speaking ability. Programs like Medicare Part D (the prescription medication program) and the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges rely on consumers to choose the plans that will balance value and health coverage. However, there are multiple studies from the implementation of Medicare Part D that state consumers do not choose the most economically efficient options. Most people, particularly those who prefer to speak in a language other than English, could benefit from learning more about their health care options. Read More

Addressing the Needs of LGBT Hispanic Older Adults in the U.S

Two Older LGBT Hispanic men at a SAGE 2011 health fair

Two Older LGBT Hispanic men at a SAGE 2011 health fair

With the rapid growth of our diverse population, our country is becoming more beautiful than ever. But unfortunately, there are still some groups that are not well understood by the nation’s service providers, or by local, state and federal governments. One of those groups is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) older adults. And in order to better understand the reality of this diverse community, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) conducted an analysis through a literature review, focus groups (one was held at The SAGE Center; SAGE is fellow member organization of the Diverse Elders Coalition) and in-depth interviews with LGBT Hispanic older adults, including the service providers who work with them. Read More

Untold stories of Asian & Pacific Islander LGBT Elders: “I think the need to be accepted overcame their need to be themselves.”

Three things to know as May ends and we look towards June:

  1. May is Older Americans Month.
  2. It’s also Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
  3. And I work for the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.

So, what does this mean?

Well, for me, it made me really think: What are the stories being told about older LGBT AAPI people? Are they even being told? Outside of the amazing George Takei, I can’t think of another prominent openly gay Asian American older person. Can you?

I am Puerto Rican, gay and not yet 30 years old, so the stories of older LGBT AAPI people are not my personal story. Therefore, it was important that I find individuals who could tell and share these stories… And that was difficult. Read More

Immigration Reform: Key Issues for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) works with many organizations advocating for immigration reform.  However, not many advocates are considering the effect reform could have on older adults.  I am happy that NHCOA was able to partner with the National Council on Aging and Caring Across Generations to develop the issue brief Immigration Reform: Key Issues for Older Adults and People with Disabilities.  Aging advocates have a large role to play in immigration reform and this resource will help inform them on the varying issues faced by older people and people with disabilities.

Read the full issue brief here.

And don’t forget to come back on Wednesday April 10, right here on diverseelders.org as NHCOA’s president Dr. Yanira Cruz will blog about Immigration Reform and Politics in an Aging America.

The Re-launch is here!

Two weeks ago, we announced that we would be re-launching the Diverse Elders Coalition Blog.  Read here to find out more.

We are thrilled that this day has finally come. As we previously promised, in addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we will have exciting guest bloggers.  We will also display our content in a variety of different ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.) And much more! Have a suggestion? Contact us.

You can bookmark this page or subscribe to our RSS feed to stay updated. Check back on Wednesday to read our latest post, courtesy of National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). Until then, enjoy some highlights from the blog’s history:

1) Watch Our Story

2) The Unique Needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Elders

3) 10 Considerations for Working with the Diversity of Older LGBT Latinos

We are Re-launching On March 18!

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) was founded in 2010, and in July 2012 we launched our official website, which also serves as a news and commentary blog on the social, political and economic issues affecting the growing yet vulnerable demographic of elders who are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT).In the last eight months, we have put out numerous posts on the issues that affect our communities and the creative ideas and best practices to address them. In the summer of 2012, we also released Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, a resource that describes the issues facing elders of color and LGBT elders, who together will represent a majority of older adults in the United States by 2050.

In this time, we have received some wonderful comments on our work, as well as helpful feedback from our readers (all of you) on how to improve the site to better meet your needs—and we listened to you. Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition came together and crafted an exciting plan for moving forward by implementing many of your ideas, which you’ll see starting with our blog re-launch on March 18.  Here are some of the improvements to look forward to:

  • In addition to our regular contributing bloggers, we have some exciting guest bloggers scheduled!
  • Content displayed in a variety of ways (e.g., pictures, videos, interviews, Top 5 columns, etc.)
  • More news and original content from coalition members
  • And more!

 

As we look forward to March 18, please like us (and tell a friend!) on Facebook to stay updated on the events surrounding the launch and the latest news affecting diverse elders. If you have any questions about DEC or would like to submit an idea for a blog post, please contact us.

See you on the 18th!

To learn more about DEC members, click here.

10 Considerations for Working with the Diversity of Older LGBT Latinos

Effective outreach begins with a plan and developing a plan requires research. Yet, anyone trying to develop an outreach plan for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Latinos can quickly feel as if he or she is hitting one brick wall after another—there is simply a lack of resources dedicated to this community.  Sure, you may be able to find strategies on how-to engage seniors, LGBT youth or the Latino population at large, but these strategies do not speak to the unique experiences and challenges faced by older LGBT Latinos.

For those of you whose organizations are trying to better engage this community, you may simply need a place to start. You may wonder, “What are the most effective outreach techniques to reach Older LGBT Latinos?” As the former Outreach Coordinator for SAGE Harlem (a program for LGBT older adults serving a significant Latino population), I have asked myself the same question. Through trial and error, I have been able to identify the top ten considerations for working with the diversity of older LGBT Latinos.

Read More

Interview with Chum Awi from the Chin community in Burma

SEARAC provides technical assistance to a number of Burmese and Bhutanese community organizations in the US to build strong, local ethnic community-based organizations and faith-based organizations. For this blog post, we interviewed Chum Awi, a key leader and elder in the Chin community, an ethnic minority from Burma. Chum is based out of Lewisville, Texas and works with the Chin Community of Lewisville. Read More

Introducing the ‘Improving Services and Activities for Diverse Elders Act’

There are many services and supports for older adults available at no cost. Things like home delivered meals, transportation services, and benefits counseling all help older adults live in their own homes and communities and age in dignity. The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the law that provides these services and supports and creates the nation’s infrastructure for aging. It is an invaluable law that helps millions of people each year. Despite the law’s successes and importance, it faces deep budget cuts and is becoming outdated. Read More

In-Language Assistance and AAPI Elders

BY SCOTT PECK, DIRECTOR OF POLICY, NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC CENTER ON AGING

One of the most difficult challenges of low-income AAPI elders is the ability to access programs and services designed for their specific needs.  Critical is the ability to access in-language assistance to elders who are limited-English-proficient (LEP).  Limited English proficiency has profound effects on AAPI elders to access essential services and understand their rights and obligations.

For example:

A 2007 study conducted by the National Senior Citizens Law Center found that foreign language translators that assist with health plan inquiries, as required of health plan sponsors by law, were only able to serve limited English proficient AAPI beneficiaries in their primary language 37% of the time

Read More

Looking to Harlem – Creating a Safe Space for the Older Black LGBT Community

Harlem is undoubtedly one of the most well-known African-American neighborhoods in NYC and the nation. Part of its rich history includes the Harlem Renaissance, a literary movement celebrating black cultural identity in the 1920s and 30’s. It is also home to the Apollo Theatre, a cultural landmark that has hosted influential black icons and leaders such as President Barack Obama, Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson. What might not be as well-known, however, is that there are a number of local black and gay-owned businesses in the community such as Harlem Flo and Billie’s Black, showcasing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people exist in Harlem.

There is also a significant aging community. One in three Harlem residents are age 50 and older, according to 2006 estimates from The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. And as an outreach coordinator for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), I also know well that a significant number of these older adults are LGBT.

Read More

Latino Seniors Describe their Needs

This summer, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) has been traveling to key regions of the country to host its Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meetings.  These meetings allow NHCOA to hear the needs and perspectives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers and also to empower them to become more civically engaged.

Newspaper articles print grim economic statistics, but in order to learn the true human cost of these numbers, we must listen to real individuals and hear their background and perspective. This information is key in aligning daily needs with meaningful policy solutions. Three common themes we picked up at the Dallas and Miami regional meetings were: (1) Hispanic older adults are still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008, (2) they are uneasy about the future, and (3) despite their fears and concerns, they are eager to be a part of the solution.

Read More

An LGBT-Inclusive Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA) serves as the country’s leading vehicle for delivering services to older people nationwide, providing more than $2 billion annually in nutrition and social services. Since its enactment in 1965, the OAA has aimed to ensure that older people have the supports they need to age in good health and with broad community support. It places an emphasis on more vulnerable elders who face multiple barriers that can aggravate economic insecurity, social isolation, and various health challenges related to aging.

Yet strangely, despite ample evidence of their heightened vulnerability and their need for unique aging supports, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people are invisible in this landmark law. As the OAA comes up for reauthorization, and as millions of LGBT people enter retirement age, Congress should ensure that the OAA supports all elders, including those who require unique supports. LGBT older adults should be written into the framework of the Older Americans Act.

Read More

The Unique Needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Elders

BY SCOTT PECK, DIRECTOR OF POLICY, NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC CENTER ON AGING

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) elders are one of the fastest-growing groups of ethnic elderly in the U.S. but remain largely invisible. Each elder faces unique challenges to obtaining a high quality of life in their later years. Unfortunately, AAPI elder needs are not well-researched, their concerns are often not addressed by current public policies, and few programs and services are designed for their specific needs. Language and cultural barriers present difficult barriers to care since programs and services designed for a broader population are often inaccessible to AAPI elders due to limited outreach efforts in their communities. According to the US Census’ American Community Survey, only 41 percent of AAPI elders feel that they speak English “very well.” Limited English proficiency has profound effects on the ability of AAPI elders to access essential services and understand their rights and obligations.

It is important to remember that this inaccessibility is occurring within rapidly changing demographics. AAPI elders are a growing and diverse population – 2.8 million AAPI elders live in the U.S., with significant numbers of AAPI elders living in California, Hawaii, New York, Texas, and New Jersey. Over time, the numbers of AAPI elders will continue to grow. Between 2010 and 2050, the AAPI elder population 65 years and older is expected to grow 466 percent, while the total population of American elders will grow 120 percent.

Read More