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The Importance of Latinos in Clinical Trials
August 10th, 2016

Latinos comprise one of the U.S.’s largest ethnic groups, making up 17% of the U.S. population; however, they only make up 1% of those participating in clinical trials, according to data from the National Press. This is concerning as Latinos have a higher rate of chronic disease and are one of the fastest growing demographics in the nation.

Clinical trials are generally research studies that examine if a treatment or medical strategy is effective for individuals with a certain illness. Sadly, the participation of minorities in clinical trials across the United States is under-represented.

For example, according to the University of California, Davis, African Americans experience the highest incidence of cancer (593.7 cases per 100,000 people) but, along with Hispanics, both have the lowest rates of cancer clinical trials participation at 1.3% (UC Davis, 2014).

Dr. Yanira Cruz, President of National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), points out that Latinos face barriers to participation in clinical trials. These include language and cultural differences, lack of education, health literacy, and a dearth of information on clinical trials.

Generally, invitations to participate in clinical trials are in English, which my limit the participation of Latinos who are limited English proficient. Moreover, Dr. Cruz stresses that cultural factors may also discourage Latino participation in clinical trials.

For example, some Hispanics rely on faith when faced with health issues rather than treatment. Latino families are also often very involved in medical decisions and may be hesitant to have their family member participate in clinical trials. Finally, in Hispanic culture, individuals need a trust relationship between patient and physician, which often is not established before the start of a clinical trial; therefore, they do not feel comfortable participating in the trial.

Low levels of health literacy and formal education also create an obstacle in accessing services, benefits, and knowledge of medical procedures. A participant with low levels of formal education often finds it difficult to understand medical terms and procedures inherent in clinical trials. “In occasions when the concepts of the research are not clarified for the participants, they will have doubts about how the clinical trial works and its effectiveness. The purpose, benefits, and risks must be understandable for Latinos for them to participate,” said Dr. Cruz.
IMG_1504During the National Convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NABJ/NAHJ), held on August 4, 2016 in Washington DC, Dr. Yanira Cruz participated in a panel discussion “Increasing diversity in Clinical trials” sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company. The panel discussion focused on the lack of minorities participating in clinical trials. In encouraging more Latinos to participate in research trials, Dr. Cruz stressed that, “It’s important that Latino communities be seen as a subject of development and not only as a subject of study.” Doctors, researchers, and recruiters must have cultural sensitivity and empathy to be able to understand and gain more participation from the Latino community.

 

 

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In addition, the panel discussion also addressed the role of mass media communications in encouraging Latino communities to participate. During the discussion, Dr. Cruz emphasized that, “Mass media communications and clinical research are a matter of social responsibility.”

 

 

For example, the media was quick to cover unethical research in the past, such as a trial in Guatemala, during which more than 1,500 individuals were infected with syphilis, after having been given false information that the trial was to seek the cure of sexually transmitted diseases. Bringing such abuses to light is an important media role; however, it is also important that the media highlight the benefits to individuals and public health of the majority of trials that are conducted in a highly ethical manner. It is also an important media role to inform populations about clinical trial opportunities in their geographic area.

It is critically important that ethnically diverse groups participate in clinical trials, since disease impact and the effectiveness of treatment varies according to gender, age, genetic background, lifestyle and other factors. Participation in clinical trials is a moral imperative for ethnically diverse communities as one’s participation can not only open doors to improving one’s own health, but can benefit many others in one’s own community.


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El hambre afectará a más del 30% de los adultos mayores en EEUU
July 26th, 2016

En 2030, la cifra de adultos mayores en EEUU sobrepasará los 72 millones de personas, y en los próximos 10 años, más del 35% padecerá de hambre, según cifras aportadas por Feeding America.

Esta realidad impacta de forma alarmante a la comunidad latinoamericana que hace vida en este país, y cuya población de mayor edad alcanzó el 8% en 2014.

Mientras que el adulto mayor latino se debate entre la decisión de comprar alimentos o comprar medicamentos, uno de cada cuatro se encuentra en situación de inseguridad alimenticia grave, lo que deriva en niveles de desnutrición crónica.

Más de 50 mil millones de dólares al año, es el costo que supone la desnutrición de adultos mayores en EEUU.

La desnutrición en adultos mayores se evidencia en la ausencia de proteínas que impiden, entre otros factores, la asimilación correcta de medicamentos. Esto trae como consecuencia la agudización de enfermedades crónicas, mayor riesgo de infecciones, lentitud en los procesos de cicatrización y la prolongación de permanencia en hospitales o clínicas.

Según el estudio publicado por el Journal of Clinical Nutrition los gastos médicos de adultos mayores que padecen algún nivel de desnutrición superan en 300% las cuentas de otros pacientes que reciben alimentación balanceada.

La falta de acceso a una alimentación balanceada por parte de la población latina es la causa primaria de la desnutrición. El hambre es la consecuencia más dramática de la pobreza en EE.UU. Los planes de seguridad alimentaria diseñados para hacerle frente no llegan de forma equitativa a esta comunidad, en comparación, por ejemplo, a los blancos no latinos.

Los adultos mayores latinos dependen, en su mayoría, de ingresos no salariales. El 78 por ciento se beneficia del Seguro Social y sólo el 35% se benefició difícilmente del Programa de Asistencia para la Nutrición Complementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés.) La falta de acceso a este tipo de ayuda aumenta en 20% el riesgo de desnutrición en adultos mayores hispanos.

La alimentación de calidad y balanceada proporciona nutrientes esenciales para el mantenimiento de los músculos. La desnutrición, por su parte, provoca fragilidad, dificultad de movilización o riesgos de caídas para nuestras abuelitas y abuelitos.

En adición al factor pobreza, los adultos mayores latinos se enfrentan a la ausencia de sincronización entre la prevención y el diagnóstico de la desnutrición.

De acuerdo a la Dra. Yanira Cruz, presidenta del Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor (NHCOA), la falta de información de alternativas alimenticias desde las comunidades, especialmente para aquellos adultos mayores que viven solos y aislados, es otra causante de esta condición física.

“Nuestra comunidad se enfrenta a muchas barreras; desde la comunicacional, que impide la interrelación personal, el acceso a información esencial sobre salud pública, planes de ayudas a nuestros adultos mayores hispanos; tales como talleres de nutrición, acceso a alimentos gratis y verdaderamente saludables” detalló la Dra. Cruz.

Aunque no existen cifras oficiales de la cantidad de adultos mayores hospitalizados actualmente en EE.UU., la Sociedad Gerontológica de América estima al menos dos tercios de estos pacientes, se encuentran mal alimentados y con algún nivel de desnutrición.

“Es un problema que viene desde la escuela de medicina. A los estudiantes no se les refuerza el aprendizaje en nutrición, y esta falla se repite en los hospitales, donde faltan profesionales del área, donde los planes de alimentación no guardan relación con la atención del paciente”, resaltó la Dra. Yanira Cruz.

El Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor liderando iniciativas que le permiten a la comunidad hispanoamericana acceder al uso de herramientas en beneficio de su salud y bienestar, viene desarrollando programas para combatir la desnutrición.

Como muestra, la culminación exitosa del “Programa de Bienestar: Muévase, ejercítese y aliméntese” que por segundo año consecutivo le brindó a un importante número de adultos mayores las claves para mantenerse sano, a través de las actividades físicas y la alimentación balanceada.

Salud y Bienestar es el programa modelo de NHCOA con alcance nacional. Su meta es educar e informar a los adultos mayores, sus familiares y cuidadores sobre la prevención y el control de la diabetes. Son miles, las familias latinas beneficiadas. Haga clic para más información sobre la diabetes.

Apostándole a la autogestión, NHCOA lleva adelante su “Programa de Huertos Comunitarios”, con el que los adultos mayores latinos invierte su tiempo para la siembra y recolección de productos que son consumidos por ellos mismo.

El Programa de Capacitación para la creación de Redes de Protección del Adulto Mayor (RPAM), es una iniciativa piloto con la que NHCOA insiste en el cuidado, atención e información.

“Debemos mantenernos activos en el desarrollo de iniciativas que nos permitan enfrentar los retos de una población que va en constante crecimiento demográfico, necesitamos el apoyo de todos. Que todos podamos vivir con dignidad nuestros años dorados es la meta. Todos vamos hacia allá.” Finalizó la presidenta de NHCOA, Dra. Yanira Cruz.

La Administración de Asuntos Comunitarios, adscrita al Departamento Estadounidense de Salud y Servicios Humanos, estima que la población del adulto mayor hispanoamericano en Estados Unidos, sobrepasará el 25% para el año 2060.


NHCOA Promotes Leadership, Advocacy and Community-Driven Solutions at Miami Open Forum
June 3rd, 2016

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By Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), brought together more than 100 elected officials, social advocates and service providers along with members of the older adult population in an open forum in the Miami-Dade College InterAmerican Campus on June 9th. This safe space gave those present the opportunity to discuss solutions to issues such as economic insecurity, hunger and unaffordable housing.

I am really excited about our forum as this is an important year.  It is not only an election year, but it is also a year during which we have started to see some momentum on the national level on aging issues and some real attention to all our work together.

For several years, we have gone to Miami to understand the barriers to aging with dignity in America.   Over these years, we have shared the struggles and challenges we face – to economic security and accessing housing and healthcare and nutritious meals as well as being safe from fraud and abuse.  Each year, we have brought this information back to Washington, D.C. and presented it nationally in our State of Hispanic Older Adults report which we release officially on Capitol Hill and distribute nationally.

Last year, this work was recognized as NHCOA was invited to be a part of the historic 2015 White House Conference on Aging. In addition, there was some movement on legislation as the Older Americans Act, which provides needed services for America’s older adults, was finally re-authorized and funded a full decade after its last re-authorization.

The Older Americans Act and actions like it matter – they provide needed services, from senior centers and meals, to transportation for all of our seniors. NHCOA is working hard with a coalition of national groups to make sure those services are accessible to diverse seniors nationwide.

We insist that all American seniors should enjoy their golden years in security and with dignity.

Though there have been some steps in the right direction, there is much more to be done. The voices of our community leaders have contributed to the national debate that pushed the issues forward.  They have inspired us all and the descriptions of their struggles have opened the eyes of many in Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C.

So, on June 9th, we went back to be inspired and informed once again.  This time, though, we went a step further and focused primarily on solutions rather than the issues and obstacles.  We know that each of our leaders and social workers has strengths and knows their community and the challenges faced better than anyone else, therefore they are the most apt to address those challenges. We promise to take their solutions back to Washington and present them. We promise to give them a national voice and we will work hard so that the country can continue taking steps in the right direction.

It is an election year and it is important for our community to vote. Florida is always a key state in national elections, and the Latino vote in this state has been key in the past two elections.  Every vote counts.  I know that the voter registration process in Florida is not convenient, but every vote this year is crucial. I would ask everyone to make a commitment and register to vote and also encourage your families and friends to do the same.  I especially ask this of our seniors.  You are respected by your children and grandchildren and your encouragement can make a huge difference.

The Administration plays a key role in the future of critical issues in the U.S.  And we are facing critical issues.  During the next administration or by 2019, the Latino population aged 65 and older is projected to be the largest ethnically diverse community in this age group in the U.S. The implications of this demographic shift is huge for our community.  Will we have a President and Congress who will work to ensure that housing and nutrition is available for seniors?  Will we have policies in place that allow older adults to age with dignity, or in economic security?  It is important for us not only to vote, but to make an informed vote based on the issues that impact our community.  We need to understand the significance of programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act in our lives and understand the candidates’ positions on these issues in order to vote accordingly.

And, so, in this important year, full of hope and critically important decisions, let’s work together to make sure that all U.S. seniors can age with dignity, knowing that they are safe and cared for by the people, community and nation that they served for so long.


NHCOA resalta el liderazgo y las soluciones comunitarias para empoderar a los Adultos Mayores en Miami
June 3rd, 2016

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By Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO

El Consejo Nacional Hispano para Adultos Mayores, NHCOA por sus siglas en inglés, reunirá a más de 100 personalidades, entre quienes destacan; políticos, defensores sociales, proveedores de servicios y adultos mayores, el 9 de junio próximo en el Miami Dade College InterAmerican Campus.

Es un orgullo para mí, liderar nuevamente esta convocatoria que busca reforzar el acompañamiento  y la protección que durante años NHCOA ha garantizado para el adulto mayor.

En esta oportunidad, más de 50 luchadores sociales, líderes naturales, serán capacitados con herramientas que le permitan ejercer políticas públicas en favor de la igualdad y la justicia. Sus aportes serán incluidos en el reporte que anualmente presenta NHCOA ante el Congreso.

Florida, Texas y California se posicionan como los estados con mayor crecimiento de la población longeva es por eso que NHCOA insiste en multiplicar el número de líderes. Ya somos miles en varios estados del país, gracias al trabajo en equipo y el apoyo de nuestros patrocinadores.

La ciudad de Miami cuenta con cifras alarmantes de desigualdad, solo hasta el año pasado se contabilizaban no menos de 50 mil adultos mayores hispanos viviendo en situación de pobreza. Estamos hablando de una población que sobrepasa los 65 años y que sobrevive con menos de 11 mil dólares al año.

Todo esto nos obliga a triplicar nuestros esfuerzos para que cada uno de ellos viva sus años dorados con dignidad y mucho amor.

Durante este encuentro regional, NHCOA se enfocará en definir, con el apoyo de cada uno de los líderes comunitarios, la aplicación de soluciones inmediatas a la falta de acceso por parte del adulto mayor, a los servicios que ofrecen los proveedores de salud.

Hemos identificado por ejemplo, el desconocimiento por parte de nuestras abuelitas y abuelitos de los diferentes planes de nutrición que les permiten una alimentación sana y continúa.

Son muchas las alternativas, pero lamentablemente la incompetencia o falta de sensibilidad de los coordinadores de estas iniciativas, hacen que sea más difícil socializar el mensaje.

NHCOA cuenta actualmente con dos programas de viviendas para atención al adulto mayor, uno en Washington DC y el otro en Kansas, más de 80 apartamentos les han devuelto la esperanza a cientos de abuelitas y abuelitos que no contaban con espacios dignos para disfrutar de su última etapa de vida.

Desde esos espacios, estamos logrando además, el apoyo para su adecuada alimentación, atención médica y actividades recreativas, y son precisamente las herramientas que permitieron el éxito de estos planes pilotos, las que deseamos compartir en el foro de Miami. Es el deseo de NHCOA extender estos servicios en todo el país.

Este año es de suprema importancia para todos los latinoamericanos y hace aún más especial este encuentro regional. Es un compromiso para NHCOA convocar a la movilización, a través de sus adultos mayores, de cara a las próximas elecciones presidenciales.

Debemos empoderarlos, ayudarles a extender puentes informativos a las nuevas generaciones, que sus experiencias les hagan entender a los nuevos votantes, a nuestros jóvenes latinos, lo trascendental que serán los resultados para el vivir bien de nuestra gente.

Esta oportunidad es propicia para agradecer enormemente el granito de arena que cada uno de los que conforma el equipo de trabajo de NHCOA aporta para la concreción de nuestras metas, así como también, agradecemos el apoyo de nuestros patrocinadores; Univision, Verizon, Abbott, Lilly, Pfizer, Abbvie, Phrma, Herbalife, AARP, Aetna Foundation, AstraZeneca y L’oreal. GRACIAS! Sin ustedes, nuestra misión sería imposible.


“Permiso Familiar Pagado. Es el momento”
May 25th, 2016

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Luego del nacimiento de su primer hijo, la galardonada cineasta Ky Dickens, enfrentó una grave situación económica y la culpa de no poder garantizarle los cuidados iniciales a su bebé al no contar con un permiso post natal pagado. Esta realidad, la motivó a evidenciar la falta de beneficios laborales en EE.UU., específicamente la ausencia de pago durante el disfrute de vacaciones o permisos médicos.

“Estamos haciendo que nuestro pueblo tengan que decidir entre la necesidad de su trabajo y el amor a su familia. Ninguna nación del planeta se debate entre estas opciones” Esta declaración fue hecha por el secretario del trabajo estadounidense, Thomas Pérez, en el marco de la introducción de “Zero Weeks” http://www.zeroweeks.com/about-the-film.html

“Zero Weeks” es el cuarto documental de Ky Dickens, que actualmente se encuentra en proceso de preproducción y que cuenta con el testimonio de reconocidos expertos en materia de salud pública, tal es el caso de la Dra. Yanira Cruz, quien lidera el compromiso de trabajo que adelanta el Consejo Nacional Hispano para las Personas Adultas Mayores, NHCOA por sus siglas en inglés.

Durante la grabación de su entrevista para el documental, la Dra. Cruz resaltó que según cifras de la Asociación Nacional para la Defensa de la Mujer y la Familia, solo 13% de los trabajadores en Estados Unidos se benefician con permisos pagos para atender a su familia, y menos de 40% tiene acceso a licencias médicas, a través, de un seguro de incapacidad de corto plazo.

“Las políticas públicas de nuestra nación no están cumpliendo con las necesidades de los trabajadores y mucho menos de sus familias. La Ley Federal para el permiso Médico y Familiar no pagado, FMLA por sus siglas en inglés, atiende menos del 50% de la población y para mucho de ellos, es un verdadero lujo utilizarla” aseguró.

Para NHCOA, la atención y cuidados para el adulto mayor debe ser una prioridad de Estado. Cuatro de cada 10 hispanos se han visto obligados a reducir sus jornadas laborales o en el peor de los casos, abandonar sus empleos para atender emergencias en su núcleo familiar.

La Dra. Yanira Cruz, fue enérgica al asegurar para “Zero Weeks” que la implementación del pago por permisos de salud o vacaciones es otra manera de dignificar los años dorados de nuestros adultos mayores. “Sin duda, garantizaría la seguridad y bienestar de todo el núcleo familiar, en especial quienes trabajan a tiempo completo (…) Permitiría a los padres, ser cada vez mejores para sus hijos, y a los hijos, acompañar con amor y dedicación los últimos años de sus padres.”

EE.UU., es uno de los únicos dos países en el mundo que no cuenta con permisos remunerados para salud o vacaciones. Solo 11% del sector público y 17% del sector privado tienen acceso. 25% de madres primerizas debe regresar a su puesto de trabajo en un máximo de 10 días. Sin este tipo de permisos pagados, 40% de las mujeres de este país son más propensas a depender de cupones de alimentación y ayuda estatal.



May 3rd, 2016

Impact of Autonomous Cars- 70.33% in favor if proven affordable, safe and available (2)

By Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President & CEO

This past Monday, May 2nd, I was fortunate to be a part of the Virginia Governor’s Conference on Aging that was held in Richmond Virginia. Simply said, our world is aging. The number of people today aged 60 and over has double since 1980. Every seven seconds today, and for the next 20 years, someone in America will turn 60. Furthermore, within the next few years, the number of adults aged 65 and over will outnumber children under the age of five. In about 10 years for the first time in human history, there will be more older adults in the world than younger populations. For this and many other reasons, I am passionate about the work we do at the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA).  I believe it is important for all Americans to age in dignity.

A couple of key facts influence our aging society and the ability of older adults to age in dignity are:

  • There is a growing diversity in our society. We come from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. In addition, our literacy levels vary from zip code to zip code, among different age groups, and across income status.
  • New trends are emerging. These trends include: hunger among seniors is on the rise; older adults are living longer and want to continue to have meaningful lives; the gap between the haves and haves nots is growing; and many families do not have the necessary resources to provide caregiving to their loved ones.
  • Many family members become caregivers. In the Hispanic community many family members become caregivers to someone in their family. For me, this is a topic that hits close to home, because I was the caregiver for my mother when she was diagnosed with aggressive gallbladder cancer. Caring for a person during an illness is not an easy task; in fact, it is extremely difficult. Among the tasks that fall to caregivers are: transportation to appointments, keeping track of medications, providing or arranging for spiritual support, taking care of meals and making sure they are eaten, coordinating health services delivered at home, and in many cases like my own, having a full-time job and being a mother.

I am a pretty educated consumer who knows what resources are available for caregivers and who understands how to navigate the system. With that being said, it was extremely difficult to carry out my caregiving activities by myself. The valuable support I received from my family members helped me in this difficult situation. I tell my story because I cannot even start to imagine how difficult it must be for someone who does not have family support, knowledge and information about what resources to use. Many of the people we serve at NHCOA are part of this group – isolated, with limited understanding on how to navigate the system and often left out from programs to which they should have access.

Some of the positive factors for caregivers among Latino families are: a strong family support system; a culture that promotes caring for those who have cared for us; and a younger population that can take part in a workforce of caregivers in an aging society. There are also some factors that are getting in the way of caregivers in the Hispanic community.  These include a lack of information about services and resources available to support caregivers; limited programs targeting caregivers in the Latino community; little awareness and understanding about caregiving issues impacting Latino communities; and limited resources available for a targeted caregiving effort.

NHCOA is committed to serving all older adults, but it places a strong emphasis in using its capacity in reaching and serving hard-to-reach Hispanic older adults, which are underserved by service programs for which they are eligible.

Join our efforts to ensure that older adults can age in dignity and access the necessary service programs!

We believe strongly in paid sick leave!



April 25th, 2016

Impact of Autonomous Cars- 70.33% in favor if proven affordable, safe and available (3)

 

Last week, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) pilot tested its new wellness program “Move, Exercise and Nourish” in Washington, DC. The event was held on April 13 and 14 at NHCOA’s housing facility Casa Iris and was sponsored by Herbalife and Lauriol Plaza.

During the event, older adults from Casa Iris and the community, as well as caregivers and families, learned about the importance of exercising and physical activities, nutri
tion, and general wellbeing for their health.

“This is an excellent wellness program to help older adults maintain good health every day,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO. “Our health is indeed the greatest asset we have; therefore, we must treasure it and protect it.”

The first day of tIMAG1976he training consisted of exercises and physical activities. The participants learned about the importance of including physical activities in their routine and how much exercise they need on a daily basis. At the end of the day, participants had the opportunity to practice some of the exercises that were taught during the training. The second day was focused on nutrition and wellbeing. The participants learned about how to eat healthier, taking into consideration the cultural values and traditional foods, of the Hispanic community. Also, they learned about the importance of sleeping and steps they can take to sleep longer and comfortably. Lastly, participants engaged in a discussion about sexual health. The topics discussed during the two day training were reinforced with a bingo game at the end of the training.

IMAG2124During the event, NHCOA announced a new partnership with Herbalife. As a result of this new partnership, Herbalife will provide shakes, meal replacement bars, and protein bars for the residents of Casa Iris.

“Proper nutrition is essential if we want health and good quality of life. However, this can be challenging throughout every stage of life. For older adults, good nutrition is particularly important as a lack of healthy food can trigger or complicate health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease,” said Angela Arboleda, Herbalife’s Vice President for Government and Community Affairs. “Herbalife is proud to partner with organizations like NHCOA to ensure as many people as possible have access to nutritious food and resources to lead healthy, active lifestyles.”

Other officials parIMAG2079ticipating in the event included Jackie Reyes, Director of the Office on Latino Affairs; Claudia Barahona, Constituent Services, Director for Councilmember Brianne Nadeau of Ward One; Sonia Umanzor, Minister Counsellor of Community Affairs for the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C.; Rhonda Ricks from UnitedHealthcare; and Jackie Geralnick, Public Health Nutritionist from the Office on Aging.

It was an exciting two day event during which participants had the opportunity to learn how to attain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, participants had the opportunity to enjoy a demonstration on how to make Herbalife shakes and to sample them.

 

 



March 21st, 2016

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NHCOA is excited about its participation in the Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging to take place this week in Washington, D.C.  This year, the Conference is working to incorporate a focus on diverse aging populations across the U.S.  This effort is critically important as America’s diverse elders continue to grow as a percentage of the U.S. aging population.  Hispanic elders are the fastest growing aging population in the nation, expected to grow by about 150% by 2050.

Diverse elders need programs and services designed to take into account their needs, which may include cultural and linguistic differences.  Key to this idea is provision of outreach and services that are culturally competent.  Cultural competence is the willingness and ability of an individual or a system to recognize and respect the culture of the person for whom a service is being performed. It also involves the development of a point of view that values differences and is responsive to diversity. Cultural competence goes beyond bilingualism to the way one expresses oneself and how one understands the mores and nuances of other cultures.  For example, there are at least seven different words for a drinking straw in Spanish.  These words are national or regional in origin and knowing which word to use with whom depending on their country of origin is a measure of cultural competency.

Hispanic seniors are known for being hard to reach and serve.  This is because they not only have cultural and linguistic gaps from the larger U.S. culture, but that, depending on their countries of origin and level of acculturation, they are a diverse population within themselves.  It takes a person and a system dedicated to cultural competency to reach and serve them successfully.  The best way to incorporate this level of cultural competency into the system is to incorporate people and organizations that are from the local communities and know the cultures and linguistic nuance in these communities.

An older adult described the experience of trying to communicate with someone who was not culturally competent, “Communicating with someone who doesn’t really understand me or who does not  know where I am coming from when I have a question is very difficult.  It’s even more difficult when I try to find programs to meet my basic needs of food, housing, and health and I cannot find them.  Things are too difficult to find and sometimes I even have to go to bed hungry.”

NHCOA recommends that all programs and services targeting Hispanic older adults are dedicated to a high standard of cultural competency.  We are excited to bring this message to the American Society on Aging this week.



March 21st, 2016

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The American Society on Aging (ASA) conference is a major event in the aging field and NHCOA is pleased to be presenting during the conference.  The conference will open Sunday, March 20 and will continue until Thursday, March 24  in  Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Park and Omni Shoreham Hotels. Over these five days, people from across the U.S. and abroad will get together to engage and explore issues that are affecting our adult population.  Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families and their caregivers, has been invited to participate in this important event.  “I am honored to participate in this conference,” stated Dr. Cruz, “not only to share my knowledge, but also to engage and learn about what is being done in the aging community.”

On Monday, March 21st, Dr. Cruz will participate in the 2016 Panel of Pundits. This panel will be focused on the Presidential Campaigns and how they affect older adults nationwide.  During this panel Dr. Cruz and other aging experts will weigh in on the Presidential and other national campaigns across the country and their impact on the nation’s older adults.  Issues to be addressed during this panel will include how the outcome will affect the Affordable Care Act and the Older Americans Act, among others.

In addition, on Thursday morning, March  22, Dr. Cruz will participate in  the “Getting in the Game: Diverse Elders and Civic Engagement” symposium, joining representatives from Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the National Indian Council on Aging, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA).  The symposium will focus on the increasing diversity among the nation’s seniors in terms of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation and the disparities and challenges these groups face.  Presenters at the symposium will talk about specific challenges facing diverse groups and best practices to engage these communities. ‘

We invite you to join us for these exciting and important conversations to learn not only about the issues affecting Hispanic older adults, but also the older adult population in general.  We hope to see you there!

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