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.

Monique Martin - ANTHC Healthcare Navigator

Monique Martin – ANTHC Healthcare Navigator

Recently, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) spoke with Monique Martin, a dedicated healthcare navigator for ANTHC. Growing up in Southeast Alaska gave Monique insight on the best ways to communicate with Alaska Native/American Indian elders across the state. She has traveled the land, teaching about the Affordable Care Act, enrolling and sharing what she knows.

Partnerships were formed with other organizations that had a shared vision to help in tackling the task. The United Way of Anchorage, AARP, Alaska Primary Care Association and the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center all came together to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

Monique said that when they started there was a general lack of information and citizens were seeking a source for reliable, unbiased information. ANTHC has become that source with a content-rich website that has an authentic “Alaska feel”. To make sure the educational materials had that crucial “Alaska feel” they made everything as Alaska Native specific as possible. They took generic PowerPoint slides and took out anything that did not apply to Alaska. They added pictures that reflected the people they were speaking with. They stuck with plain language. For example, instead of the phrase “shared responsibility”; they used the term “tax penalty”. The result was that the message felt like it was coming from your neighbor, someone you know. Personalizing the message makes it more real and more believable. Read More Read More

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for Older Adults (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.

April is National Minority Health Month, and the theme for this year is “Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity.” There are a lot of things diverse older adults can do to prevent serious health problems. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and having regular checkups from a health care provider can all help prevent serious health issues. Pet ownership can also help improve the health of older adults. For those who are able, walking a dog or just caring for a pet can provide exercise and companionship. Unlike dieting, exercising, and visiting health care providers, however, pet ownership does not require a high level of health literacy.

The author, Jason Coates, and his cat, Sal

The author, Jason Coates, and his cat, Sal

Many diverse older adults are at risk of isolation, though the companionship of a pet can help reduce this risk. Cultural and linguistic barriers keep many diverse seniors from developing new social contacts, and this is harmful to health. Hispanic and Asian American older adults are at particular risk of becoming isolated by cultural and linguistic barriers. LGBT seniors, including many that have experienced a lifetime of discrimination, are at risk of isolation as well. Pets provide a contact for older adults and the routine of caring for a grateful pet can provide meaning and a sense of self-worth for older adults. Taking dogs and cats for a walk also gives older adults a reason to go outdoors and interact with others. Read More Read More

Women and HIV/AIDS: What about Older Adults, Women of Color, and Cancer?

March 10, 2014 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). NWGHAAD is a nationwide effort to help women and girls take action to protect themselves and their partners from HIV – through prevention, testing and treatment. The HIV epidemic is rapidly aging with 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. occurring in those 50 and older. By 2015 the CDC expects half of the HIV infected population to be over 50. Older Americans are more likely than younger Americans to be diagnosed with HIV at a later stage in the disease. This can lead to poorer diagnoses and shorter HIV to AIDS intervals. And with HIV and age, comes cancer.

Statistics – An Overview

  • One in four people living with HIV infection in the U.S. are women.
  • According to the CDC, 275,700 American women are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Women made up 20% (9,500) of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010 with most (84%) of these new infections in women being from heterosexual contact.
  • 4,014 women with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 and an estimated 111,940 women have died since the beginning of the epidemic.
  • Only 41% of HIV positive women are retained in HIV related medical care and only 26% of HIV positive women achieve viral suppression. Viral suppression improves survival and reduces transmission to others.

Disproportionate Affect on Women of Color

  • Black and Hispanic women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other ethnicities.
  • While only 13% of the U.S. female population, Black women represent 64% of new female HIV infections.

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Aging in America 2014: Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities

Will you be joining the 3,000 engaged aging professionals and experts March 11-15, 2014 in Sunny San Diego for the ASA Aging in America 2014 conference?

Interested in exploring best practices and learning about successful advocacy and engagement tactics to better engage older adults of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders around the Affordable Care Act and their health?

Yes? Join us Friday March 14, 2014 from 1-2:30pm for a presentation entitled Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities. Leading experts from our nation’s diverse aging organizations will be on hand to share lessons learned, opportunities and challenges within their communities in accessing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and living full and healthy lives. Speakers include:

  • Introduction from Christine Takada, President & CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)
  • Bryan Pacheco, National Coordinator of the Diverse Elders Coalition
  • Randella Bluehouse, Executive Director of the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA)
  • Robert Espinoza, Senior Director of Public Policy & Communications of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
  • Jason Coates, Policy Associate of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)

As contested and contentious issues go, the American Society on Aging knows there is no hotter topic than the Affordable Care Act. As the ACA approaches its fourth anniversary, it remains a dominant policy and political issue. It is a landmark and transformational law providing first-time access to healthcare for millions, promising reforms in healthcare delivery under Medicare and promoting elder justice in America. At the Diverse Elders Coalition, we know that 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. Join us!

AT A GLANCE:

Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities
Friday, March 14, 2014: 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Room: Cortez Hill B (3rd floor, Seaport Tower)
Event Format: 90-minute Workshop
Event Category: Policy & Advocacy — Healthcare Reform
Book Code: FR345

LGBT People: Our Longing for Home, Our Right to Housing

Photo: Laurent Hamels via Getty Images

Photo: Laurent Hamels via Getty Images

There are mornings when the hour-long commute to work feels Odyssean. Today is one of those mornings. February has unfurled a litany of winter storms that have left New York City awash in slush and my Facebook feed soaked in bemoaning. As I trudge through Brooklyn and board the D train to Manhattan, I’m stirred by the resilience of people to survive winter—huddled overnight in subway trains and housing shelters, or living miles from work to afford one’s rent, a mortgage and the accumulating costs of surviving. For generations, economic injustice has been designed into the housing realities of moderate- to low-income Americans as structurally as their home floor plans; it has concentrated wealth into the privileged few and left the rest with housing instability, enduring inequality and, at its worst, homelessness. New research confirms these realities. In this context, I am privileged to afford an apartment that offers shelter through the bitter storms let loose increasingly through climate change. And I am comforted by knowing that the closest people to me constitute a home that makes the broader storms of life more bearable.

These two notions—the physical shelter afforded through adequate and affordable housing, and the sanctity of a “home” comprising loved ones we can proudly claim as our own—form the heart of the housing debate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. As with most people, we migrate from one place to the next, uprooting ourselves in search of belonging. Yet as two recent reports demonstrate, for many LGBT people—specifically LGBT people of color and elders—this quest for home routinely comes up against a housing supply that’s dilapidated, stretched thin, too expensive and far removed from the cities and neighborhoods we deserve to inhabit. We are blocked by biased housing providers unwilling to treat us on fair, negotiable terms. We crave homes through severe economic distress and pervasive inequality. It’s an unrelenting journey, begun at birth and made more fragile in later life.

The relationship between aging and housing discrimination forms the subject of a new report from the Equal Rights Center, in partnership with SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). Read More Read More

Battle Misinformation and Stand Up for the Affordable Care Act (Black History Month)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. 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 February.

By Angie Boddie, Director of Health Programs at The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc.

Black history month reminds us that African Americans come from ancestors with a legacy of overcoming obstacles far and wide. Five decades since the oppressive days of Jim Crow, African Americans have a lot to celebrate— achievements in science, business, government, medicine, arts, sports, and a two-term elected president of the United States who delivered on his promise to provide universal healthcare to all Americans.

Affordable_Care_Act_100413Originally written with the premise of putting consumers back in control of their healthcare, the Affordable Care Act required all states to assist its residents by expanding their Medicaid program’s to their residents with incomes below $16,000 ($32,000 for a family of four), with the understanding that the federal government would foot most of the bill.

Upon enactment, opponents took dead aim at the legislation. Coining the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare”, opponents tirelessly worked to repeal and replace the law. After years of heated public bickering, countless rallies, and a Supreme Court decision that finally declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional, but also gave states the option to opt out of expanding their Medicaid programs, southern states such as, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas decided to forgo Medicaid expansion, leaving thousands without healthcare coverage.
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Photo-shoot Opportunity: Diverse Older Adults 50+ (NYC, Feb. 23, 11am-4pm)

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) advocates for policies and programs that improve aging in our communities as racially and ethnically diverse people, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and LGBT people.

As the coalition enters the next phase of its exciting work, they are refreshing their website diverseelders.org to more accurately represent diverse communities.

They are looking for diverse older adults, aged 50+, in the New York City area to participate in a photo-shoot.  The shoot will take place in mid-town Manhattan on Sunday, February 23 from 11am-4pm. Exact address will be given to chosen participants.

The DEC is looking for about six (6) older people (male and female) of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds (i.e. African American, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indians etc.), who are at least 50 years of age or older. They are also looking for older adults who openly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Read More Read More

10 things Black Americans should know about HIV/AIDS (Black History Month)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. 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 February.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). NBHAAD is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Blacks in the United States with four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved and Get Treated.

Of special note to black older adults is that 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. occur in those 50 and older. Soon older adults will represent half of those in the U.S. infected with HIV and yet HIV+ black older adults often face rejection and feel discouraged from talking about the disease. The stigma and silence around HIV/AIDS in the Black community contributes to the rise of infections, later diagnoses, poorer prognoses and delayed treatment in black older adults.

1. HIV/AIDS remains a crisis, especially for Black Americans.

Source: CDC

Source: CDC

 

2. The rate of new HIV infections for Black Americans far, far exceeds that of other major racial/ethnic groups.

Source: CDC

Source: CDC

 

3. The reasons why HIV infection rates are higher in Black communities.

Source: “African Americans and HIV” by Abby Young-Powell

Source: “African Americans and HIV” by Abby Young-Powell

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You won’t believe what I learned from our black elders (Black History Month)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. 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 February.

My father is my source of strength and love. He is an Afro-Latino older adult and much of the reason why I became an aging advocate. He supported me as a gay boy finding my way in a, sometimes, intolerant world and now he is aging in a society where we don’t often take into account the unique challenges faced by diverse older adults.

As an aging advocate, I know the power that stories have and the change they can affect when they are shared. Last year, I shared my father’s story on the Huffington Post to highlight the economic insecurities faced by many diverse elders.

Today, in honor of Black History Month, I want to put a spotlight on the lives of our black elders—those whose shoulders we stand on and to whom we owe much. Below are some lessons I’ve learned from black elders along the way.

Stories are best when shared, so read below and share with the world.

HOMOPHOBIA AND THE PREVALENCE OF “MACHISMO” ATTITUDES ARE HUGE ISSUES IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

Photo by SAGEUSA via Flickr

Photo by SAGEUSA via Flickr

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On the Shoulders of our Black Elders: Powerful Images from our Past (Black History Month: Civil Rights in America)

In honor of Black History Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to black aging during February. 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 February.

February is Black History Month, also commonly known as African-American History Month—a time for us all to reflect on and remember the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “Civil Rights in America.”

It’s no secret that when the Civil Rights Movement, the fight against racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S., reached its height during the turbulent 1960s, it was one of our country’s most difficult times. Many of today’s black elders risked their lives and courageously led the movement to fight against racial inequality and bestow upon us the many freedoms we enjoy today. We at the Diverse Elders Coalition publicly thank our black elders and encourage you to take a moment to share this post and thank the black elders in your life.

Images hold power. The media’s role in bringing many of the significant events of the civil rights movement to light helped the nation progress towards more equality. These images were often difficult to view, but were necessary to show the people of the United States the inhumane and often violent acts committed against African Americans. Read More Read More

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

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.

Roxane Spruce Bly

Roxane Spruce Bly

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.

Ms. Spruce Bly shared two remarkable success stories. One self-employed older couple too young for Medicare signed up and found a plan for 32 cents a month, with no cost sharing, no co-insurance, and no co-pay. They were also able to assist an older man who was paying over $400 a month for Medicare part A; once he signed up he was able to get the same coverage for $6.00 a month. Read More 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.
 

NHCOA Health Care Navigator

NHCOA Health Care Navigator

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Deportation: A Human Rights Issue

Deporting Americans: A Community United Against Deportations

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece entitled “Caught in the Deportation Machine …” about how deportation affects elders – both those who are detained and deported, and those who suffer trauma from losing children or grandchildren. This photo montage, “Deporting Americans,” was created in Philadelphia by 1Love Movement when the tight Cambodian American community in that city was hit by a deportation crisis. Dozens of Cambodian folks with green cards, including Chally Dang and Mout Iv, were suddenly rounded up because of old convictions. Many had been rebuilding their lives for years after making the mistakes that had originally made them deportable. Many left behind U.S. citizen children, parents, and grandparents. Entire neighborhoods were devastated. Read More Read More

In the Crosshairs of Health Disparities: Older Latinos, HIV and Depression

December 1st is World AIDS Day

By Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD, Director for Research and Evaluation, ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging

Latinos are the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., and comprise 17% of the population. They are often viewed as a monolithic group by mainstream culture. However, the term Latino, referring to people of Mexican, Central American, and South American origins, encompasses great diversity with regard to nationality, immigration history, language use, educational and occupational opportunities, and socio-economic position. These aspects of diversity also serve as indicators of social-structural determinants of health disparities (or differences in how often a disease affects people). How these social-structural determinants of health affect the lives of older Latino adults help us to better address the needs of this population. Understanding health disparities also provides insight into challenges faced by diverse elders from a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds who deal with many of these same issues. The intersection of HIV/AIDS and depression among older Latinos will be used to illustrate how these social-structural determinants affect the health and well-being of a diverse aging population.

Double Jeopardy: HIV and Depression

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The overall HIV prevalence rate for Latinos is nearly three times the rate for whites. Further, Latinos are the most likely to be classified at Stage 3 (i.e., AIDS) at the time of their HIV diagnosis (48%), as compared with whites (42%) and blacks (39%). Due to successful anti-retroviral therapy, by 2015 more than half of those with HIV in the U.S. will be 50 years or older, a proportion that will rise to 70% by 2020. The disparity in HIV prevalence is amplified among older people with HIV/AIDS. Among Latinos who are 50 and older, HIV prevalence is five times that of older non-Hispanic whites. In addition, older Latinos have a 44% increased risk for major depression and are more likely to present with clinically significant depressive symptoms compared with older whites. This syndemic (convergence of two disorders that magnify the negative effects of each) of HIV and mental distress among Latino older people with HIV (“OPWH”) is an important public health concern since the most consistent predictor of HIV treatment non-adherence is depression, and only 26% of Latinos with HIV achieve the clinical goal of viral suppression. Read More Read More