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February 2015-19

Tell your State Senators to Reauthorize the Older Americans Act
February 25th, 2015

The Older Americans Act is the single most important piece of legislation for older Americans that supports senior centers, long-term care programs, transportation services and other essential assistance services for older adults. Yet, the OAA, which was last reauthorized in 2006, was up for reauthorization in 2011. Since 2011, NHCOA has advocated tirelessly for the OAA reauthorization as many of its key programs underfunded and misaligned with the changing demographics.

Given the growth and diversification of the U.S. aging population, the OAA needs to be reauthorized to reflect our current reality, as well as meet the needs of our most vulnerable seniors across the country.

This past November, several members of NHCOA’s Hispanic Aging Network travelled from different corners of the country to attend the NHCOA Capitol Hill briefing and advocate on behalf of the Hispanic older adults they serve on a daily basis. These leaders shared their personal stories and a petition signed by more than 5,000 people asking the Senate to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (S.192). Thanks to their efforts and those of advocates, family members, caregivers, and seniors across the country, S. 192 is expected to be discussed on the Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Now more than ever we need to send the U.S. Senate a clear, united message to reauthorize the Act, which is why we are asking for 5 minutes of your time to make two phone calls. Act Now. Call both your state senators.

Dial 1-888-277-8686 and follow the prompts to be connected to your state Senator. Once you are connected you can leave the following message for each of your senators:

I understand the Senate will be discussing the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act in a few weeks. I urge Senator [YOUR SENATOR'S LAST NAME] to reauthorize the bill so that it is updated to better serve the needs of diverse older Americans. Thank you for your consideration.

Spread the word. (Pase la Voz.)

We also ask that you forward this message to all your friends, family members, and colleagues. The more people who call, the more attention the Older Americans Act will get from our lawmakers.

Thank you for using your voice to advocate for older Americans across the country!



Father, Mother, Daughter and Aunt

Salud y Bienestar: How to Prevent Heart Disease if you are Diabetic
February 10th, 2015

During the month of February, we commemorate American Heart Month to promote heart health awareness and prevention. If you or a loved one is diabetic there are several steps you can take to prevent heart disease, one of several health complications that can result from having diabetes:

Keep your blood glucose under control.

You can see if your blood glucose is under control by having an A1C test at least twice a year. The A1C test tells you your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. The target for most people with diabetes is below 7. In some people with heart disease or other special circumstances, their doctor may recommend slightly higher levels of A1C.

Keep your blood pressure under control.

Ensure to have it checked at every doctor visit. The target for most people with diabetes is below 140/80, unless their health care provider sets a different target.

Keep your cholesterol under control.

Have it checked at least once a year. The targets for most people with diabetes are the following:

  • LDL (bad cholesterol): below 100
  • HDL (good cholesterol): above 40 in men and above 50 in women
  • Triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood): below 150

Make sure you are eating “heart-healthy” foods.

Include whole foods, especially those high in fiber, such as oat bran, oatmeal, whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as fruits and vegetables. Cut back on foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol, such as meats, butter, dairy products with fat, eggs, shortening, lard, and foods with palm oil or coconut oil. Limit foods with trans fat, such as snack foods and commercial baked goods.

If you are a smoker, quit.

Your doctor can tell you about ways to help you quit smoking.

Ask your doctor whether you should take a daily aspirin. 

Studies have shown that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Take your medicines as directed by your doctor.


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


*These guidelines were taken from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC).

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

Working to Stop HIV on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 
February 4th, 2015

Saturday, February 7 marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a day which elevates the importance of getting tested and treated in the African American community through community mobilization. The NBHAAD theme, I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!, reminds us that it will take everyone’s involvement and support to stop HIV together, especially in diverse communities that are disproportionately affected as are Hispanics and African Americans.

While African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44% of all new infections in 2010. This makes them the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. By the end of 2008, an estimated 260,800 African Americans living with AIDS have died in the United States.

As a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), NHCOA encourages everyone reading this to get informed, get tested and get involved as we join nationwide efforts to stop HIV together, especially among diverse populations.

Break the stigma that often persists in the Latino community surrounding HIV/AIDS

One of the best ways to fight HIV is by speaking up against the silence, fear, and myths that far too often dominate the issue. As grandparents, caregivers, and family members we have the power to inform ourselves and our loved ones. Grandchildren can have the kind of relationship with their grandparents that allows them to talk about issues they might not feel comfortable bringing up to their parents. Grandparents, especially those who live with or close by their relatives, have the authority and wisdom to not only help eliminate stigma, but also beat down discrimination and phobias that continue to persist in our communities.

In addition to raising HIV awareness, abstinence, mutual monogamy, regular and consistent condom use and HIV treatment are all key to preventing or reducing the incidence of HIV in our communities. Also, during yearly check ups talk to your doctor about the risk of HIV and whether you should get tested or not. You can find your nearest testing site near you by clicking on this link, calling 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), or texting your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Lastly, adding your voices to the online conversations surrounding HIV/AIDS issues and awareness days, such as NBHAAD can help spread your message to all your networks and beyond. The official NBHAAD Twitter account is @blackaidsday. Leading up to Saturday, NHCOA (@NHCOA) and Act Against AIDS (@talkHIV) will also be posting messages regarding NBHAAD that you can re-tweet and share with your networks.

For more information on NBHAAD, visit the CDC NBHAAD feature. To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against HIV, visit the Act Against AIDS website.

NHCOA is one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities.


Salud y Bienestar: Taking Action to Fight Heart Disease and Diabetes
February 3rd, 2015

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women of most ethnicities in the United States, as well as a main cause of disability. Among Latinas, heart disease is the second leading cause of death, following cancer. Hispanic women face high rates of diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity, which in turn increases the risk of developing heart disease.

The month of February is dedicated to raising heart health awareness through American Heart Month and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Campaign that focuses specifically on the impact of heart disease on U.S. women of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

Given that heart disease and diabetes are so closely related, and that diabetes disproportionately affects U.S. Hispanics, NHCOA is joining the millions of people throughout the country who are raising heart disease awareness this month.

While heart disease is scary for both patients and family members, there are ways to control it from worsening as well as preventive measures that can be taken to lower the risk of heart disease.

In order to know what steps to take to help improve your heart health, we must first understand what heart disease entails and what the specific risk factors are.

What is heart disease?

There are several forms of heart disease, the most common form being coronary heart disease or CHD. It is usually referred to as “heart disease” and consists of a disorder in the heart’s blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack. Heart attacks usually occur when an artery is blocked, keeping oxygen and nutrients from reaching the heart. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the affected section of heart muscle begins to die.

Heart disease is a lifelong condition. Once you get it, you will always have it. However, sustainable changes in your daily habits can improve your heart health and the progression of the disease. 

What are the risk factors for heart disease among Latinos and Latinas?

Risk factors are conditions or habits that increase the chances of either developing a disease or the disease worsening. In the case of heart disease, having one or more risk factors dramatically increases the chance of developing it because risk factors tend to worsen each other’s effects. There are two types of heart disease risk factors: those you can control and those you can’t.

Among the risk factors you can’t change are:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Age
  • History of preeclampsia
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity

The risk factors you can change are those that are affected by healthy lifestyle changes, and in some cases, taking medication. These include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and diet, stress, sleep apnea, and diabetes and prediabetes.

The link between heart disease and diabetes

An estimated 30% of Hispanics adults have diabetes, but as many as half don’t realize it. When untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, which includes and is not limited to heart disease. Many of the risk factors for diabetes are the same for heart disease, so it is safe to say that leading a healthy lifestyle that helps you prevent or manage diabetes also protects you from heart disease. Given that the risk of diabetes among Hispanics is almost twice as high than non-Hispanic whites of similar age, protecting your heart and overall health is particularly important.

How to reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications from diabetes

Salud y Bienestar is centered around sustainable healthy lifestyle changes, which includes eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods that are low in salt and fat, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Food preparation is also key as the Latino diet is inclined towards frying food instead of steaming, baking or grilling. Lastly, portion control and scheduled meals help you nourish your body and help maintain your blood glucose as leveled as possible throughout the day.

Physical activity is another aspect of achieving a healthier lifestyle. Exercise should fit each person’s specific needs and limitations, but also be fun and appealing. Brisk walking, dancing, tai chi, and low-impact aerobics are some of the activities that are appropriate for Hispanic older adults.

Finally, scheduling and attending regular check-ups with your doctor as well as measuring your blood glucose and blood pressure are key to staying healthy. If you have a prescription, take the medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Also, ask your doctor about aspirin therapy to prevent heart disease, and if it works for you.

Outreach and education is another important component of Salud y Bienestar. Through interactive presentations and popular education games, Latino seniors learn about diabetes prevention and management, as well as how to implement the lifestyle changes to improve their health.

Together, we can lead healthier lifestyles to protect ourselves from, or effectively control, diabetes and heart disease.

NHCOA’s signature program Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) provides participants with culturally and linguistically appropriate tools to prevent and manage diabetes. Salud y Bienestar is sponsored by the Walmart Foundation. 


CDC Issues Measles Outbreak Alert
January 28th, 2015

The U.S. is currently experiencing a measles outbreak, which started in California and has spread to six additional states and Mexico. This is a great public health concern because of all infectious diseases, measles is one of the most contagious. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people who do not have immunity against the disease and come into contact with an infected patient will develop measles. Therefore, the CDC is disseminating information to empower communities to raise awareness in their homes, workplaces, and places of faith.

While measles is considered a child’s disease, adults who are not immune to measles can catch and spread it. 

Therefore, everyone should take precaution, especially if you are planning on traveling abroad or have small children at home.

Vaccine Immunity

There are some ways to know if you have immunity against measles, such as having written documentation that states you have received one or two doses of the vaccine or laboratory evidence of immunity. If you do not have documentation or are unsure, always consult with your trusted healthcare provider or doctor as each person’s health situation is unique.

Vaccine Recommendations

The measles can be prevented with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The CDC recommends that if you were born during or after 1957 and do not have evidence of measles immunity, you should get at least one dose of the vaccine. Recommendations vary for children, students at higher education institutions, and international travelers.

Getting Vaccinated

If you aren’t sure where to get vaccinated, check out’s Adult Vaccine Finder and interactive map that lists immunization requirements and information by state.

Spreading the Word

Here are some bilingual resources you can use to help spread the word about the measles:

Measles: Questions and Answers (IAC, reviewed by CDC)

Hoja Informativa para los Padres (CDC)

Sarampión: asegúrese de que su hijo haya recibido todas las vacunas (CDC)

El Sarampión Puede Viajar (CDC Podcast)

Salud y Bienestar: How to Stick to Your Health Resolutions and Keep Them
January 27th, 2015


“No more junk food!”

“Cakes, sweets, and chocolates are so 2014.”

“This year will be different.”

You might identify with one or all of these statements. The start of a new year is almost synonymous with resolutions of all kinds, especially those related to exercise, fitness and nutrition. Usually one of the main goals is to shed the extra pounds gained during the holiday season. This is why January is the peak month for gym memberships subscriptions and renewals, but attendance usually tapers off several weeks later along with the willpower to eat “healthier” foods. There are a couple of things to consider if you want to not only keep your resolution, but create a lifestyle change:

Change your mindset

Think about the why instead of the what. Why do you want to lose weight or eat healthier or do more exercise? Motivation is an important part of achieving a goal. If that motivation is finite— that is, tied to an event or situation— you may reach that goal, but afterward there is no reason to keep at it. But what if your motivation focused on a broader and more fulfilling end goal, such as good health in your golden years? If we start to see health, fitness, and exercise as important factors that support the aging process, we are able to pursue a lifestyle that ensures we are in the best health possible at every stage of life— not just for a party or a trip. Your heart will thank you!

Cultivate healthy habits

Lifestyle changes are challenging, but not impossible. And, if your mindset is focused on long-term, life-long health, half the battle is won. The other equally important half is creating— and more importantly, sticking to— habits that will support the lifestyle change. So why can’t many who embark on ambitious resolutions at the beginning of the year make the transition from resolution to habit? The answer is in our brain. While each person is different, science points to a magic number of days needed for our brains to process and adopt a new habit: 21. Curiously, this is usually about the time it takes many people to give up on their resolution. While the reasons may vary, what we can gather from this is that even though we are jogging at a marathoner’s pace, we still need to mark short-term goals to ensure we experience progress.

Keep realistic short-term and long-term goals

Any lifestyle change requires developing and keeping new habits. Goals help us keep up and strengthen these habits. For example, you may want to include weekly exercise as a habit that supports the lifestyle change you are seeking. You can reinforce that habit by setting up short-term goals (I want to walk in the park three times a week) and long-term goals (I want to train for a 5k race). In creating goals we not only appreciate our own progress, but can track it as well.

Keep good company

Lifestyle changes aren’t easy, as we mentioned before. But, if you find family members or friends who share your desire to lead healthier, more active lives, you can keep each other motivated and accountable. Whether it’s your spouse, children, friends, or even grandchildren, having someone to do exercise or cook with helps keep you on course with your goals.

Keep it real

Lastly, we suggest to “keep it real.” Don’t deprive yourself or push yourself too hard. Burn out is one of the reasons many people fail to keep their resolutions. The key here is moderation and the understanding that just because we didn’t walk one day or ate too much cake, we haven’t failed. Each day is a new beginning!

National Wear Red Day Flyer ENG

This Friday, February 6, NHCOA will “go red” for National Wear Red Day, created by the American Heart Association (AHA). Wear something red, snap a selfie and share it through your social media channels with the hashtag #GoRedCorazon. To learn more about the National Wear Red Day and AHA’s Go Red for Women Campaign, visit

Looking Toward the “Fourth Quarter”
January 20th, 2015

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Tonight President Obama will lay out his fourth quarter plan for his last two years in the White House. Over the last few weeks, he has shared a couple of “SOTU spoilers,” traveling the country to discuss different aspects of what he will present in tonight’s speech.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers we represent, here are a couple of areas we would like to see the President prioritize over the next two years.

1. Work with Congress to protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare Qualified Individual program, which pays for low-income seniors’ Medicare Part B premiums, has been temporarily extended until March 31, 2015. Congress should make this program permanent and provide funding to help low-income seniors, particularly Hispanic older adults, gain access to the Qualified Individual program and other Medicare benefits as those who are elegible are most likely not to receive it.

Medicare fraud is also a pervasive issue among Latino seniors. They are systematically targeted due to the multiple barriers that keep them from accessing and understanding their benefits and rights as Medicare beneficiares. Congress should ensure that proper funding be secured to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to this vulnerable, hard-to-reach population.

2. Urge Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the Older Americans Act.

The Older Americans Act is long overdue for reauthorization, and needs to be modernized to better serve the needs of the growing and diverse older adult population it serves, particularly low-income seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. The programs of the OAA are also extremely important in allowing older adults to age in dignity and the best possible health as it authorizes a wide variety of programs focused on health, nutrition, caregiver support, job training, and more.

3. Urge Congress to pass the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2014.

The bill would provide some sorely needed updates to this long-neglected program which provides subsistence level income for over 8 million older Americans and people with disabilities. A majority of those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are women, including two-thirds of those who receive SSI on the basis of age. Revising the current SSI program to match 2014 cost of living standards and expenses is not only common-sense, but critical to the success, health, and well-being of all seniors, and especially those in the Hispanic community.

4. Provide increased subsidized housing opportunities for Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors.

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Section 202 Program helps to expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services for older adults.  It provides very low-income older adults with options that allow them to live independently but in an environment that provides support activities such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. Additionally, the building and housing units have railings and other features which make them easily accessible for older adults. Many Hispanic older adults live in subsidized housing, but the wait lists are long, and many wait years before qualifying. Increased funding for these housing programs is needed to reduce the wait periods and allow more Hispanic older adults and low-income seniors to have a safe and affordable place to live.

5. Take action so more working families have access to family and medical paid leave.

Currently, the United States is lagging behind other developed countries on paid family and medical leave policies: it is the only developed nation that doesn’t require employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave. According to the White House, it is estimated that 43 million private-sector workers in the United States do not have access to any form of paid sick leave. We applaud President Obama’s announcement last week, which included a call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, but there is more to be done to ensure that all working American families have access to the time off they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

NHCOA will be live tweeting tonight during the State of the Union, which starts at 9 pm ET. For live streaming and more information about tonight’s speech, visit

What I am thankful for on MLK Day
January 19th, 2015

Washington, DC NHCOA Leaders class of 2012

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to remember Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a wide range of projects that strengthen communities, promote leadership, and provide solutions to social issues. As we strive to achieve the democracy and social justice Dr. King envisioned for our country, MLK Day serves a reminder that servant leadership and volunteerism lie at the heart of who we are: a society that believes in giving back, sharing the best of our talents, and empowering others to be the best they can be.

Service and volunteerism at the core of our Hispanic Aging Network, a growing group of individuals, groups, and organizations that carry out our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, in different areas of the county. The commitment and dedication of this intergenerational, multicultural, and bilingual network is the lifeblood that enhances and inspires our work in Washington and in the field. Their volunteerism helps to:

Today I would like to offer my gratitude to those who share the best of themselves—not only on MLK Day, but every day of the year— to improve the lives of others who need encouragement, support, and aide.

¡Muchas gracias!

It’s Time to Lead on Leave
January 16th, 2015

hispanic_family4President Obama has made a significant announcement in favor of millions of U.S. workers and families when he urged Congress to take up and pass the Healthy Families Act championed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), which would provide working Americans with up to a week of paid leave per year. He also presented a series of proposals to increase access to paid family and medical leave for working families across the country.

According to White House estimates, 43 million Americans in the private sector do not have any form of paid leave.

“That means that no matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent, or look after themselves or their children,” President Obama explained on the White House website. Yesterday’s announcements, which includes the call to Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, build on the steps resulting from the White House Families Summit in June 2014:

  • President Obama called on cities and states to pass legislation while Congress considers the Healthy Families Act to ensure workers have access to paid sick leave.
  • He also proposed $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs.
  • President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child.

In a statement, NHCOA President and CEO Dr. Yanira Cruz said: “NHCOA has supported, and will continue to support the Healthy Families Act, as well as other legislation that helps working families and our economy, such as the Family Act. Therefore, we applaud President Obama’s announcement and join him in urging Congress to ‘lead on leave’ by making paid family and medical leave a reality for all working Americans.”

NHCOA is a staunch advocate for paid sick days and will continue to work alongside groups National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) as well as Family Values @ Work (FV@W) to ensure that the voices of American workers who would benefit greatly from similar legislation, are heard.

Read a detailed fact sheets of President Obamas proposals to strengthen working families and watch his remarks.





New Year, New Goal: Donate Blood!
January 12th, 2015

Getting-Vacinated-1-300x170[1]The month of January is known as National Blood Donor Month to both raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and honor those who take the time to do so.


This awareness event, which has existed since 1970, aptly chose the month of January because it is one of the slowest times of the year for donations. In fact, most blood centers in the United States have a hard time keeping more than a three-day supply of blood for transfusions due to the constant demand.

In commemoration of National Blood Donor Month, we will debunk some common myths related to blood donations and some tips on how to get involved.

 Myth 1: Donors can get infected with HIV from giving blood.

It is not possible to get HIV from donating blood as blood collection is highly regulated and safe. Further, while it is possible to become infected with HIV in health care settings, it is extremely rare. According to the website, “the risk of getting HIV from receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs and tissues.”


Myth 2: Your health is affected by giving blood.

If you are in good health prior to donating blood, you should recover completely in just a day or two. In the hours after donating blood, it is advisable to rest a while and drinking enough liquids to replaces the lost fluid. Your body should replace all the red blood cells within 3 to 4 days, and the white blood cells within three weeks.


Myth 3: There aren’t any age limits on blood donations.

It is recommended that anyone up to 60 years old who is in good health can donate blood.


Myth 4: A donor can know if s/he is HIV positive through a blood donation.

After infection, it can take months for the HIV antibodies to develop. Those who are recently infected may have a negative test result, but yet be able to infect others. It is recommendable for people who are at high risk of HIV infection to not to donate blood.

Now that we have debunked some of the most common myths, here are some quick tips on getting involved in blood donations:


  •  Know your blood type.

There are several types of blood, and if you are going to donate blood—and in the event of an emergency—it is important to know which type you have. If you are unaware of your blood type, you can ask your parents or get tested at a local laboratory or with your primary health care provider. You can also find out your blood type after donating blood. It might take a while, but the blood bank will be able to tell you your blood type.


  • Find your local blood bank.

You can find your nearest blood bank on the Red Cross Blood website.


  • Schedule blood donations throughout the year.

According to the Red Cross, you must wait at least eight weeks (56 days) between donations of whole blood and 16 weeks (112 days) between double red cell donations. Platelet apheresis donors may give every 7 days up to 24 times per year.


  • Encourage friends and family to donate blood.

Review blood donations information from reliable sources, such as the Red Cross, with friends and families to raise awareness about the importance of blood donation and encourage them to donate.


  • Talk about the importance of blood donation through your social media networks.

Share infographics, status updates, and data to spread awareness through your social media contacts.

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