At any age, achieving and maintaining excellent health should be a top priority. Both the health care received and the habits established during youth, adulthood and middle age have profound effects on people’s health as they approach their golden years. However, Hispanic older adults and caregivers face a number of health challenges, many related to the habits established during their youth and the hardships experienced in adulthood.
In 2009, 32.4% of all Hispanics lacked health insurance. This insurance gap makes quality health care, including regular preventive checkups and consultations on an individual’s health status, highly difficult to access. Moreover, when Hispanics do have access to health care, linguistic and cultural gaps between the health care provider and patient or a lack of cultural competency can result in misunderstandings and poor communication.
Lack of meaningful access to quality health care also contributes to poor health outcomes for Hispanic older adults. Hispanic older adults disproportionately suffer from afflictions, such as diabetes and HIV. And, it is estimated that more than 80% have at least one chronic condition.
NHCOA is committed to improving the health status of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. We address health issues on multiple levels, including:
1.) localized health education and promotion programs;
2.) public policy advocacy informed by grassroots input and research; and
3.) rigorous research, which serves as the basis for both practice and policy.
Simultaneous pursuit of these three strategies has the potential to influence the national agenda around health and health care. NHCOA is implementing health promotion and education programs focused on a number of health conditions and diseases; providing cultural competency training to physicians and patients; working on a national level to prevent Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community; and advocating on issues of critical importance to the health of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, including the equitable implementation of the Affordable Care Act or health care reform on Capitol Hill.