For those who, like me, have witnessed the slow but inevitable erosion of a loved one’s memories due to a mysterious form of dementia which increasingly strips them of the ability to remember longtime friends, to recall the steps needed to perform tasks once executed almost without thinking — even taking away navigational skills that previously led them to spaces that had held a special place in their hearts — Alzheimer’s disease and its impact can seem like a death sentence.
And while medical research has yet to provide a.... Read More
African American Seniors Struggle to Find Therapists Who Understand
by Jeneé Darden for KQED’s California Report. You can read the original story here or listen to the original broadcast here.
Choosing the right mental health therapist means finding connection and trust. For some African American seniors living in the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, finding that therapist takes extra work. Finding someone they trust and who understands the challenges older people face is important, but African American seniors say another major factor is that the provider understands race and culture.
Paula Marie Parker, 64, is a retired newspaper journalist. She stays active in the Oakland community as a health advocate for people of color and as a storyteller. Parker’s family.... Read More
When Mom Doesn’t Recognize Me, I Tie a Knot and Hang On
I would have never believed there would ever come a time when my Mom–whom I’ve always described, whenever asked, as my best friend, No. 1 fan, personal “shero” and one who’s loved me unconditionally without hesitation or regret for my entire life–would look upon my face and require a few minutes before recognizing who I am.
But as her 90th birthday approaches, I must face the inevitable truth that Alzheimer’s is slowly, but surely, reshaping our world, her reality. The disease is eating away pieces of my mother’s mind, leaving a mere shell of the woman she once was. And, it both frightens me and causes great pain.
Did you know? April is National Fair Housing Month. Every April, the United States commemorates the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and recommits to that goal which inspired us in the aftermath of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in 1968: to eliminate housing discrimination and create equal opportunity in every community.
I thought I’d learn more about National Fair Housing Month if I went to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. There I read: “Recent studies and data reveal that, while segregation has decreased since the passage of the Fair Housing Act 47 years ago, segregation remains a problem today.” Housing segregation is still a problem today?.... Read More
Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Broadly defined, elder abuse is any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person. More specifically, the World Health Organization defines elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
The legal definition of elder abuse varies from state-to-state.
Elder abuse affects people from all ethnic backgrounds and social status, and most victims of abuse are women. Elder abuse may be physical, emotion, sexual, exploitive, neglect, or abandonment. Specifically defined:
Physical abuse includes inflicting, or threatening to.... Read More
Black History Month: A Closer Look at The Minority Stress Model and Older Adult Sexual Minorities
I’m always pleased to see great activists and icons of the Civil Rights Movement, inventors, artists, academics and musicians celebrated during Black History Month. Historically most have experienced interlocking oppressions of race, class and gender, and have shared stories through biopics and documentaries, while unsung heroes and survivors among us share their stories in small communities throughout the country. Many older adult minorities continue to report facing minority stressors within and outside of our communities (Velez, Moradi, & Brewster, 2013). This Black History Month, while we are remembering significant people and events in the history of the African diaspora, let’s take a closer look at the stress, struggle and resilience that continues to impact the lives of aging older adults.... Read More
We have so much to learn from Black Elders — and so many reasons to support them
February marks the start of Black History Month, a celebration of Black and African American stories, experiences, and impact on American culture. At the Diverse Elders Coalition, we’re proud to celebrate Black Elders every month of the year, but February offers us a bonus opportunity to lift these stories up into the national spotlight. Black Elders have so much wisdom to share about our history and the ways they have challenged white supremacy and other forms of oppression. It is imperative that those stories are not lost or forgotten.
I recently attended a Capitol Hill Briefing about the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), during which we heard testimonials from community-based organizations that employ older.... Read More
A Gift From My Grandmother: An Embrace of Life — and Aging
My family packed into the black stretch limousine leaving Cal State University in the East Bay. We were heading to a restaurant after attending my mother’s college graduation. We turned on the music and popped the bottle of complimentary cheap champagne. My grandmother took two sips, then pumped her hands in the air like she was “raising the roof.”
“Someone is trying to get my grandma drunk!” I joked. “Give her the sparkling cider.”
In her sassy Southern drawl, my grandmother responded, “Now look, I’m a grown woman.” She resumed enjoying the music, then diluted her champagne with cider. We all laughed. My grandmother, Angie.... Read More
Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. and Giving Back to Our Communities
On Monday, January 15th, we honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people and organizations in the United States use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of service, giving back to their communities in the spirit of the change that Dr. King worked toward during his short life. The Corporation for National and Community Service maintains a website where you can locate an MLK Day volunteer opportunity in your community by entering your zip code or searching by city and state. And if you’d like to volunteer with one of the Diverse Elders Coalition organizations, click on any of the links below for more information:
Five years ago, Pat Baldwin walked into the office of the executive director at the Hannan Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the dignity of elders in the state of Michigan, and took a seat. Pat, who is the director of the Hannan Center for Lifelong Learning, wanted to speak with the foundation’s director about an issue close to her heart—an issue for which she knew Hannan was uniquely suited to make a difference.
Having worked with older adults and the aging population at Hannan for the past 17 years, Pat recalls that she had seen an increase in troubling.... Read More
Black, Gray and Gay: The Perils of Aging LGBTQ People of Color
by Chandra Thomas Whitfield. This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com.
Cecelia Hayden Smith, 72, knows exactly how she wants to live out the remainder of her golden years: lounging lazily on the porch of a cozy house tucked along a quiet, treelined street in Washington, D.C.
She’d greet her partner each morning with a homemade country breakfast, and their afternoons and evenings would be filled with lively games of Spades and Bid Whist with a dozen or so housemates — all fellow LGBTQ elders.
“I’ve already picked out my rocking chair,” the retired substance abuse counselor quipped. “Just call me ‘Mama C,’ and make sure my room is in the front, so I can always see.... Read More
Ending the Disparate Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on African Americans
African Americans experiencing health disparities is not new. In fact, according to former Surgeon General of the United States and Honorary Chair of the African American Network Against Alzheimer’s, Dr. David Satcher, race based health disparities in the United States are both “pervasive and persistent,”.... Read More