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New Resource Guide from WHCoA: Federal Resources for Caregivers
May 20th, 2015

One of the most important and rewarding jobs a person could have is to be a caregiver. Yet, caregivers often feel alone and overwhelmed, especially those who take care of their parents, grandparents, spouses or siblings.

This is why the White House Conference on Aging has compiled a list of federal resources for caregivers from the following agencies:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • HHS Office of Women’s Health (OWH)
  • HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Department of Vetarns Affairs (VA)

Check out this comprehensive list of resources here.


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Setting the Strategic Table: 4 Priorities for the Conference on Aging and the Decade to Come
May 4th, 2015

This post was originally featured on the Declaration For Independence blog.

Convened each decade since the 1960s, the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) is the leading forum for identifying and advancing actions to improve the quality of life for older Americans. In advance of Older Americans Month this May, we sat down with Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), to explore the WHCOA’s proposed priorities for 2015 and others critical for ensuring equal opportunity to learn and develop skills, engage in productive work and participate fully in the community across the lifespan.

We talked Conference, the importance of being responsive to the interests of a diverse aging population, and how to help set the strategic table for WHCOA 2015 (spoiler: it’s town halls).

myDFI: What is the White House Conference on Aging?

Yanira Cruz: Every 10 years since the 1960s, the White House has held a Conference on Aging to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. The 2015 conference is a unique opportunity – not only because the forum is available only once every decade, but also the convergence of several anniversaries important to our society: the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act (OAA), as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This creates a very real opportunity not only to look ahead to the issues shaping the future landscape for older Americans but also to recognize and learn from the policies of the past and programs of today.

myDFI: How is the conference organized?

Cruz: Conference processes have been set under federal law. In the past, Congress has determined through public processes (i.e., legislation) its form, structure and priorities as part of the authorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) – the single most important piece of legislation for older Americans. The OAA is long overdue for reauthorization and the pending bill we do have does not address the conference. As a result, a congressional framework – including the priorities and agenda, etc. – is not in place for this conference.

myDFI: What does that mean for the conference’s priorities and agenda – how will the table be set, so to speak?

Cruz: It means the White House will set the agenda. They have committed to engaging with stakeholders and seeking broad public input to inform the process, including a national tour of regional listening sessions and a strong focus on virtual ways that older Americans and their families and caregivers can participate – such as webinars, online policy briefs and a blog.

myDFI: It sounds like stakeholders have had the opportunity to inform the agenda. What has come of their engagement and feedback so far?

Cruz: While there is more to inform and engage on, the conference announced four key priorities last July, the result of prior listening sessions with older Americans and leaders in the aging community. The priorities include: retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports and elder justice.

myDFI: Putting aside policy jargon, what do these priorities mean in practical terms – to older Americans and their families and caregivers – and how do we see those interests come through in the priorities?

Cruz: This is a good question. Each of these is an important issue, and organizations like the NHCOA and its allies already focus public policy and programming efforts along these priorities because they have a real, tangible meaning and impact on the lives of older Americans:

1. Retirement security. In practical terms, retirement security often translates into lack of food, shelter, transportation, and prescription drugs. More and more, people get to retirement age and find they cannot leave the workforce because they need a steady stream of income to cover these basic needs. Many scrap the idea of retirement altogether, reinventing themselves to keep on working. This is especially important for women who are often heads of household and have made less than their male counterparts throughout their years of labor. In addition, they are less likely to have contributed to retirement savings plans or accounts. Because many of these women rely on Social Security as their sole source of income in retirement, the equation never plays out in their favor.

Therefore, we now see more and more diverse women launching informal businesses in their later years to supplement whatever retirement income they have, particularly in the service and food sectors – catering, home cleaning and caregiving. The issue of retirement security is not seeing how we can support seniors who already face the struggles of making ends meet, but also preparing future generations of older Americans to enter their golden years with retirement security. Needless to say, this is an important issue and we are very excited that it is a leading priority for the conference.

2. Healthy aging. This is another important issue and, well, it is a passion of mine. I believe health is a human being’s biggest asset. If one has health, everything else is able to fall into place. Without good health, challenges can become impossible obstacles. In regards to healthy aging, the conference will focus on how to keep communities and society in the best possible health given the medical events and the progress we have made in recent history. Particularly, how we can ensure older Americans maintain their health and well-being as they age. For example, this includes studies and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, a hot topic in many circles right now.

3. Long-term services and supports. With the advancement of health and technology, we are able to live longer. However, it requires that we have an adequate support system in place as we age and deal with changing physical, mental and emotional realities. The promise of comprehensive access to long-term services and supports (LTSS) as we age, live with a disability, or develop a disability has not been fully realized. And the reality is that most of us will eventually develop or already have a disability. It is a complex conversation that isn’t easy to have, but one that we need to address. Therefore, I commend the conference for putting it on the table. The Independent Living philosophy must be part of any dialogue on LTSS. We must support older Americans so they can age in place where they live, eat, and gather and have access to LTSS when they need it.

Another important part of this conversation is the workforce question: who is going to support us in our older age, as we potentially develop disabilities? There is a shortage of direct support professionals and of specialists in the field of gerontology. In the next 20 years, there will be more older adults than young not just in the U.S., but across the globe. This will force a dramatic shift in how we deliver health care and provide LTSS to older adults and those with a disability. I hope that part of this discussion will include the need, and lack of, cultural competence standards. Will the next generation of service providers and gerontologists have the cultural (and linguistic) competency to navigate and support the diversity of cultures of our society? I think this is an important, complex and exciting topic that will benefit from broader conversation.

4. Elder justice. This issue is hitting some communities heavily. Often times, older adults, are more likely to be victims of fraud and abuse, specifically those who are isolated, don’t have relatives nearby and/or are more elderly. The high incidence and level of fraud within diverse communities is both disturbing and appalling. Certain communities particularly are hard hit; such as southern Texas, in particular the area of McAllen, Texas. Another notorious hotbed of fraud activity is southern Florida, especially Miami. One of the main reasons scammers seek out these victims is precisely because they are isolated and lack the knowledge, information or know-how to identify and report these injustices. It is necessary for us, as a nation, to really crack down on the fraud and abuse that targets older Americans as victims – whether it be healthcare fraud or otherwise.

myDFI: That’s quite a list, but are there other priorities the conference should be focusing on?

Cruz: Yes. There are two other areas not listed here that I believe are important: housing and transportation. While one can say that they are related in some way to all four priorities— and very well could be included in the conference— I would like to see particular attention on these two issues, housing in particular.

I think housing merits its own attention. The demand for affordable, quality, age appropriate housing is growing each day. Waiting lists to rent a Section 202 housing unit keep getting longer — sometimes a decade long. What older adult can wait ten years, and even if they had the luxury of time, where would they live in the mean time? As the wave of Baby Boomers continues to enter retirement age, and the aging population continues to outpace the young, the housing demand will only skyrocket. Moreover, the U.S. aging network is not prepared to face this reality. Our current infrastructure is not prepared to cater to the aging population it is intended to serve. I would have liked to have seen this addressed separately.

myDFI: Is there a way to ensure these issues are folded into the conference’s dialogue?

Cruz: I think they will be, but I hope we can address housing as well as transportation at some point on their own as well. On our end, NHCOA will be conducting listening sessions in different regions of the country to ensure older Americans and their families, caregivers and allies have the opportunity to share their thoughts on issues related to the WHCOA priorities, as well as housing and transportation. The schedule of listening sessions includes Miami on June 4, Dallas on June 25, and Los Angeles on August 18. NHCOA will compile this data and present a report of recommendations during our annual National Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. this November.

myDFI: These sessions provide another opportunity for older Americans and their allies to help set the strategic table for the conference. Are there others?

Cruz: Absolutely – there are a few ways. The conference itself is hosting a national tour of regional listening sessions throughout the country, including ones held in Tampa in February, Phoenix in Arizona and, most recently, Seattle and Cleveland. The next one is taking place in Boston on May 28. In addition to these in-person meetings, the conference is considering Google Hangouts as virtual forum option – I’m not sure how this will work out, but they are very interested in making sure as many voices get input into the process.

myDFI: What about during the conference – is there a role for older adults and their allies then?

Cruz: While I think the conference will be very different from previous years – for example, it will take place at the White House, which is a smaller venue – public engagement is central to the process and I expect there will be ways to participate from afar as well. Beyond webinars and Google Handouts, they’re exploring other virtual strategies to ensure more voices are heard. As we await those details, it may be easiest to sign-up to receive updates through the conference’s mailing list, plus follow the NHCOA web site.

 

 

 


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Remembering the Older Americans Act During Older Americans Month
May 1st, 2015

May is Older Americans Month

During the year this month of commemoration was instituted, there were approximately 17 million Americans who were 65 years of age or older. Of these, about one third was living in poverty. At the time, only a small amount of programs were meeting seniors’ needs. A meeting was organized in April 1963, between President John F. Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens.

As a consequence of the meeting, May was designated as the Senior Citizens Month, which later became known as Older Americans Month. 

Every President since then has celebrated the contributions of older Americans to our country, and rightfully so. Every senior should be recognized for the contributions and sacrifices they have made— and continue to make— to support families, communities and our society. Starting within the household, seniors play a vital role to the well-being of their relatives and loved ones. Numerous older adults are caregivers to the children within their family, and even friends or neighbors. Others provide financial and emotional support to their grown up kids.

At the community level, older adults represent a high percentage of volunteers. 

It may seem the contrary, but the reality is that more seniors are seeking volunteer opportunities, both domestically and abroad. Frequently, they give their time to local religious and social service organizations, such as Maria in Miami. After years of helping family members navigate U.S. systems and seeing how vulnerable they were to fraud, abuse, and scams, she decided to become a volunteer. She received training from NHCOA on Medicare fraud prevention through our National Hispanic SMP

Despite their selflessness, older adults— especially Latino seniors— are falling into poverty as they age.

Currently, the poverty rate of Latino seniors is twice that of the total population of adults 65 years and older. Hispanic older adults are also more reliant on Social Security as their sole source of income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21 percent of older adults who receive income from Social Security will only have their Social Security benefits to depend on for income. Among Hispanic seniors— who are estimated to represent 20% of the older adults by 2050— this percentage increases to almost 90%.

In addition to financial problems, a majority of Hispanic older adults suffer disproportionately from health problems. 

Hispanics are 66% more likely than non-Latino Whites to suffer from diabetes. According to Center for Disease Control report on AIDS, Hispanics were twice more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than non-Latino Whites. In 2013, data showed the U.S Hispanic population continues to face numerous health disparities and difficulty accessing healthcare. For example, Latino seniors were much more likely to lack health insurance than non-Hispanics. Moreover, diverse older adults typically bear more out-of-pocket costs for health care, which amount to more than one-third of their income for those at the lowest income levels.

The Older Americans Act— the most important piece of legislations for America’s seniors— can address these issues, but lacks the reauthorization to better serve the population it was created to help.

Given the growth and diversification of the U.S. aging population, the Older Americans Act needs to be reauthorized to reflect our current reality, as well as meet the needs of our most vulnerable seniors across the country. This law supports a variety of home and community-based services, including in-home care, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention, and caregiving support. The law helps older Americans remain as independent as possible, for as long possible, as well as help avoid hospitalizations and nursing home care, which translates into savings at the local and federal level.

Throughout the month, we will be sharing more information about the Older Americans Act, why we should all care about it, and what we can do to ensure it is reauthorized.


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NHCOA Celebrates Older Americans Month
May 1st, 2015

This year’s theme, “Get into the Act”, focuses on community engagement to enhance the well-being of seniors 

Washington, DC— Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)— the leading organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers— made the following comments regarding Older Americans Month. Celebrated each year during the month of May, Older Americans Month was created to recognize seniors for their valuable contributions to our society. This year’s theme, “Get Into the Act”—in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act— focuses on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

“During the month of May we celebrate our country’s most valuable treasure: older Americans. While the challenges seniors faced five decades ago aren’t exactly the same as those older Americans currently confront, we must remain vigilant to ensure we are doing everything in our reach to ensure they can live their golden years with dignity, economic security, and in the best health possible.

“In particular, NHCOA centers its public policy and program efforts around what we consider four key indicators of well-being: health, economic security, housing, and leadership empowerment and development. We believe each area is equally important for all older Americans, especially Hispanic older adults. Latino seniors, like other diverse seniors, have a lot to celebrate despite the difficulties and challenges, including a history of low wages, language barriers, and access to healthcare. While, these barriers create significant roadblocks to healthy aging, opportunities like Older Americans Month help draw awareness to the issues most impacting seniors.

“This year, Older Americans Month’s theme is ‘Get Into the Act’, and we join the Administration for Community Living in raising awareness on the importance of community engagement as a tool that enhances the well-being of all seniors. Together, we can empower older Americans across the country to take charge of their health and become more engaged in our communities and organizations.”

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Multi Generation Hispanic Family Standing In Park

Vermont: on its way to becoming the fourth state to adopt paid sick leave bill
April 28th, 2015

By Elyce Nollette, Public Policy Associate

There is a lot celebrate in Vermont with a 76-to-66 vote in the state House of Representatives on its paid sick days bill!

Although there is more work to be done, this sets a strong precedent for paid sick days for its workers. Currently, the state lacks a law requiring employers to provide their employees paid or unpaid sick leave. Through this bill, employers would be required to provide at least 3 paid sick days to their employees. Should statewide paid sick day provisions be adopted in its Senate, Vermont would become the fourth state to do so, joining the ranks of California, Massachusetts and Connecticut as paid sick and family leave trendsetters in the United States.

Every worker deserves the right to take time off in order to take care of their own health and the health of their loved ones without fear of losing wages or face disciplinary action. Yet, the fear and anxiety of having to choose is a reality more than 11 million workers must face each day. While there is a federal piece of legislation (called the FAMILY Act or the Healthy Families Act), which would establish paid sick and family leave standards throughout the United States and provide additional protections for American workers regardless of where they live, efforts to pass the bill through Congress and get it to the President’s desk have been stalled.

In the meantime, states like California, Massachusetts and Connecticut, took it upon themselves to pass their own state legislation because they understand the importance of paid sick leave and paid family leave as an integral part of the health and well-being of their residents. Now Vermont is one step closer to joining this elite group of states. We congratulate Vermont for another step in the right direction, and all those who are fiercely advocating for paid sick and family leave in the state and throughout the country.

Take Action

Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to voice your support for the Healthy Families Act.


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Mature women and sexual health
April 21st, 2015

Sexual health for women can touch on a range of various, but significant issues such as cervical or breast cancer to simply enjoying a healthy sex life. This encourages the idea that regardless of sexual orientation, age, or culture, all women should be able to access knowledge on how to keep their bodies healthy and functioning. The significance lies in manifesting the freedom of women being able to understand their bodies so they can decide how (or how not to) express their sexuality. Along with that, sexual health for women also includes being content with themselves in order to identify the healthy and unhealthy relationships they can develop throughout their lives.

A gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in women’s reproductive health, while an obstetrician cares for a woman during her pregnancy and immediately following childbirth. An ob-gyn is equipped with knowledge to care for either situation; meaning they can address women’s health issues ranging from use of birth control, menopause, pelvic or urinary tract problems. The quality of a woman’s relationship with her ob-gyn is extremely important because it relies on communication of sensitive health issues in order for the physician to be able to appropriately advise the patient on matters of sexual health.

Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s department of Family Medicine determined the prevalence and type of sexual concerns among women seeking routine gynecological care. From the 964 responses of the 1480 surveys they sent out, results showed that 98.8% of women reported one or more sexual concerns. The most frequently reported were lack of interest at 87.2%, body image concerns at 68.5%, unmet sexual needs at 67.2%, and needing information about sexual issues at 63.4%. These are all concerns that effect women in every age category and signal the importance of sexual health within health care.

The above figures from the study also indicate concerns many older women develop during or well past their menopause stage. In order to properly address these women as well, many factors have to carefully be considered such as cultural settings where sexual expression in old age is frowned upon. Their sexuality as well, should not be left at the door when deciding how health services can assist these older women. This entails better training and understanding of the sexual needs within older age, along with more willingness to open a dialogue with these older patients who refrain from introducing the subject.

In their Sexual Health across the Lifecycle: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, Margaret Nusbaum and Jo Ann Rosenfeld mention the added benefit of clinicians learning more about their own background and growing more comfortable with the topic of sexuality to the sexual health promotions within their clinical practices. They also describe the importance of clinicians being aware of the times when they are most vulnerable and at risk for crossing or losing sight of professional boundaries. More research and guidance on how to manage delicate or complex issues surrounding older adults still needs to be developed in order to make it a regular discussion amongst this population. This can go a long way in constructing the comfortable setting these older adults need to appropriately release their inhibitions.


Working to Stop HIV/AIDS on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 

The Time for the FAMILY Act is Now
April 20th, 2015

By Elyce Nollette, Public Policy Associate

Every day, 11% of our workforce shows to up work hoping to not get sick. 

These workers probably also hope their children, parents, and dependents don’t get sick as well. That is the daily reality of American workers who do not have access to paid sick or family leave.

For many parents, having a job and having a family are mutually exclusive. If they need to take care of a family member or themselves, they could lose wages, face disciplinary action, or even worse, get fired. All Americans, including diverse Americans, want to have strong families— be there for their children and parents when they need them most. They also want to have the resources and support to be successful in their jobs. However, many often find themselves forcing to choose one over the other because the alternative doesn’t solve their need. Millions of workers who are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act don’t take it, or use it sparingly— despite the job protection safeguards— mostly because it is still unpaid leave, wages that working parents simply can’t afford to lose.

Such decisions weaken our country, and wreak havoc among diverse families who tend to live in intergenerational households and rely on informal caregiving to take care of each other.

On election night last year, several paid sick leave initiatives were ushered in with ample margins in the state of Massachusetts, and the cities of Oakland, CA, Montclair, NJ and Trenton, NJ. While these were significant wins, there are still millions of workers in other states who deserve the same access. The good news is we can change this though through the FAMILY Act, also known as the Healthy Families Act. The bill creates a national paid family and medical leave program, which was recently re-introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CN). The bill is based on already successful and effective state paid leave laws and would reduce economic inequality and improve economic opportunities for all Americans, while simultaneously help hardworking women and men meet their caregiving needs.

The FAMILY Act is a game changer for Latinos and other diverse communities.

  • According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, an additional 5.6 million Latino workers would have access to paid sick leave under the Healthy Families Act, equating to a 78% employee coverage increase.
  • Paid sick and family leave helps to increase worker productivity, promote preventive care, and decrease the spread of contagious illnesses and diseases, which in turn has a positive effect on the economy.

The FAMILY Act has gotten off to a slow start, but together we can change this. 

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as the Committees on House Administration, and Oversight and Government Reform, and needs to be voted on so it can then have a chance at a vote on the House and Senate floors. The only way action will be taken to move the Healthy Families Act and make it a reality for all working Americans is by speaking up and taking action. The best way to encourage the committee to act is by emailing and calling the Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as reaching out to its members individually so they know that diverse communities want and need this important piece of legislation.


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Don’t Have Measuring Cups? Use Your Hand!
April 7th, 2015

Portion control is a key aspect of managing and prevention diabetes.

It is challenging to constantly measure your food intake, and you may not always have measuring spoons or cups available to guide you. The good news is that your hand is a perfect substitute.

  • Open Palm: A healthy serving of meat or poultry is 3 ounces, which is roughly the size of your palm.

 

  • Closed Fist: Your closed fist is roughly equivalent to one cup.

 

  • Thumbs Up: However, if you only need to measure 1/2 cup, place your fingers in the thumb’s up position. The area between your fourth finger and pinky is approximately that amount.

 

  • Closed Palm: The amount you can pick up in your closed palm is about 1 ounce.

 

  • Thumb: The distance from your knuckle to the tip of your thumb is about one tablespoon.

 

  • Index Fingertip: A fingertip’s worth is enough for your toast or to fry an egg, which is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon. (Always use pasture-fed cow butter whenever possible and avoid margarine and other transfat oils.)

More Tips

  • A healthy portion of cheese should be equivalent to two fingers’ worth.

 

  • A healthy portion of pasta is roughly the size of the front part of your first (four stacked fingers).

 

  • A healthy portion of sherbet (or ice cream) is a fist-full.

 

NHCOA’s Salud y Bienestar diabetes prevention and management program is supported by the Walmart Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Sexual Health: Let’s Talk About It!
March 27th, 2015

Sexuality is an integral part of life, especially for older adults. With a country that boasts a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, the expansion and normalization of sexual health within the context of aging is very vital. The World Health Organization defined sexual health as “the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual beings in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love.”

Their definition embraces the healthy liberation of sexual behavior and the prevention of interferences with sexual functions. In Margaret Nusbaum and Jo Ann Rosenfeld’s Sexual Health across the Lifecycle: A Practical Guide for Clinicians, the Cambridge University Press listed the benefits of a healthy sense of sexuality among older adults as: “(1) a link with the future through procreation; (2) a means of pleasure and physical release; (3) a sense of connection with others; (4) a form of gentle, subtle, or intense communication; (5) enhanced feelings of self-worth; and (6) a contribution to self-identity.” Every older adult should have the opportunity to experience these benefits, armed with the confident attitude needed.

This applies especially to older adults who may not feel comfortable enough to communicate or explore their lack of desire, diminished, or absent capacity for sexual fulfillment due to physiological, mental, or cultural barriers. Although they are well past their reproductive years, older adults often still have the desire and the capacity to lead full sexual lives as well as grasping the conduct within sexual actions. A 2008 NIH study on sexuality and health among older adults in the United Sates indicated that despite the high prevalence of bothersome sexual problems, the frequency of sexual activity did not actually decrease substantially with increasing age.

Data from the study also approximated that one quarter of sexually active older adults with a sexual dysfunction reported avoiding sex as a consequence. They as well, deserve the opportunity to achieve that even through addressing the implications for mental health and the health of relationships. In order to produce awareness on the matter, communication and dialogue throughout the older adult community is imperative.

In working to encourage the communication of sexual health, it is important to consider the traditional communities where there is an encumbrance in openly expressing themselves. For example, NHCOA’s extensive work with Hispanic older adults across the nation in the area of health-related topics reveals that Hispanic older adults are hesitant to talk about socially sensitive subjects even with healthcare providers. Along with that, there is a stigma constantly attached to older age and sexual activity that does not encourage a healthy discussion on the topic. The prior NIH study also concluded that reasons for the poor communication on the topic include the unwillingness of patients and physicians to initiate such discussions, along with gender, age, and cultural differences between patients and their physicians. Negative societal attitudes about women’s sexuality along with their age also inhibits such discussions.

Data from NHCOA’s HIV education and awareness program has illustrated the rise of the percentage of sexually transmitted infections among seniors over fifty years old. Now more than ever, it is important that we encourage physicians as well to advance their knowledge on sexuality at older ages in order to improve their skills in boarding the topic on patient sex education and counseling. This also means incorporating a more open understanding from physicians on cultural consciousness as a means to encourage a diligent and gentle approach in initiating the patient’s comfortable communication. This would assist in bridging the disconnect that is present due to cultural norms that are applicable with respect to some older ethnic adults.

If older adults do not confront the plethora of concerns, lack of information, and myths regarding sexuality, it can cause undue denial of what is a normal and important aspect of the quality of life and fulfillment as an older adult. The Institute of Medicine report No Time to Lose elaborates on the potential negative effects; they range from impeding the development and implementation of effective sexual health and educational programs, to impacting the level of counseling training given to health care providers to assess sexual histories as well as comfort levels of providers conducting risk-behavior discussions with clients.

In the former Surgeon General Dr. Satcher’s call for action, he challenged the country in: gaining an understanding on the importance of sexual health in everyday lives, being aware of sexual health care needs for patients, training professionals to manage these needs and, generally promoting an open and honest national dialogue about sexuality and sexual health.


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