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Setting the Strategic Table: 4 Priorities for the Conference on Aging and the Decade to Come

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.

 

 

 

NHCOA President & CEO Encourages Action on World AIDS Day

 

 
This year’s theme is “Focus. Partner. Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation”

 

Washington, DC- 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 caregivers– released the following statement in commemoration of World AIDS Day, which is observed every year on December 1st:

 

“Since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported more than 30 years ago, approximately 25 million people have lost their battle to HIV. While significant medical advances have controlled HIV to the point where those who receive appropriate and continuous treatment can enjoy a long life and may never experience the devastation of AIDS, there is still more work to be done to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

 

“HIV thrives on silence and misinformation, which is why everyone has a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. It is estimated that in the U.S. there are 50,000 new HIV infections each year. And, increasingly there are more older Americans who are getting infected, who may or may not be aware of their HIV status.

 

“Today on World AIDS Day, we join the rest of the globe in remembering those who have lost their fight to AIDS, as well as those approximately 34 million people who are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. As a proud member of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, we also encourage our partners and leaders to act against AIDS. Let’s focus on ensuring that all patients who enter and remain in medical care can manage their condition like a chronic illness, as well as partnering with community leaders and advocates to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention throughout the country. Working together and sharing the best of our talents, we can achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

 

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NHCOA President and CEO Applauds President’s Bold Action to Align Our Immigration System with our Core Values as a Nation 

Urges Congress to “get the job done” by passing a bipartisan bill

Washington, DC – 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 caregivers- released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s Executive Action announcement on immigration. The statement reads as follows:

“On behalf of NHCOA– the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers– we are heartened and encouraged by President Obama’s three-point executive action plan that supports our economy, our national security, and millions of hardworking immigrant families and workers, which include Latino seniors.

“While these actions are positive steps, it is only a temporary solution as an estimated 6 million people will not be covered under President Obama’s short-term fix. Therefore, as we applaud President Obama’s actions, we now look to Congress to get the job done. We urge the House of Representatives to act on, and pass, the U.S. Senate bipartisan bill swiftly and decisively.

“We also issue a word of caution to those who would benefit from President Obama’s executive action. This announcement will most likely bring forth a flurry of scam artists who will want to take advantage of this situation to rob innocent people of their time and money. Our community is disproportionately affected by different types of fraud, which is why we ask you to spread the word and protect yourself by getting informed.”

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NHCOA Releases State of Hispanic Older Adults Report, Conducts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

NHCOA 2014 State of Hispanic Older Adults Report Release

NHCOA RELEASES STATE OF HISPANIC OLDER ADULTS REPORT, CONDUCTS ADVOCACY DAY ON CAPITOL HILL

U.S. Representatives Raul Ruiz, MD, Michelle Lujan-Grisham, and Tony Cardenas recommit to the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the single most important law for U.S. seniors

Washington, DC – Picture this: to keep from going hungry in straitened circumstances, you may one day need to eat cat food for dinner, or search for your lunch in a dumpster. In its latest report, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)— the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers— reveals this is not merely a worst-case scenario; it is reality for some seniors in the U.S. today.

Last week, NHCOA released Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Stories from the Field, a data and testimonial-driven status report with policy recommendations that captures the hardships and challenges shared by seniors during the organization’s Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meetings arising from the lack of policies, programs, and strategies to address the aging and diversification of our U.S. population. In 2014, NHCOA held community forums in Miami, Florida; Dallas, Texas and Los Angeles, California. The information gathered at these events, coupled with statistics, revealed that, sadly, older adults are unable to afford even their basic necessities.

“If you look at the statistics, the challenges today’s seniors are facing may seem insurmountable,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO. “However, once you listen to their stories, it is immediately clear that these challenges need to be addressed, no matter how challenging they may seem. The goal of the Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Stories from the Field report is to sensitize us to a reality that is commonplace and unacceptable: people who have worked decades to bring prosperity and well-being to their families and country are simply not making ends meet, let alone aspire toward what we call ‘golden years.’”

NHCOA Board Member and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging Cindy Padilla moderated a panel of experts and community leaders— Kate Lang, Staff Attorney at the National Senior Citizen Law Center and Dr. Jaime R. Torres, President of Latinos for Healthcare Equity; Jose Perez, Executive Director of Senior Community Outreach Services (McAllen, TX); Francis Rizzo, Community Advocate (Dallas, TX); Harry Paraison, MPA, Executive Director of DH Perfil Latino (Millville, NJ); and Elizabeth Jimenez, Director of Senior Programs at Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)— provided context to the report’s findings through statistics and testimonials.

In addition to the data and testimonials from seniors in different parts of the country, the report details several policy recommendations, including the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the single most important piece of legislation for U.S. seniors. Ariel A. González, Esq., Director of Federal Health and Family Advocacy at AARP spoke briefly on the impact and importance of the Older Americans, while members of Congress in attendance reaffirmed their commitment to reauthorizing this important law, which hasn’t been updated since 2011.

“We know the issues of senior hunger, poverty, and health access all too well in my home state of New Mexico,” said Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). “The federal government must step in and provide the resources and the oversight necessary to ensure that all seniors receive the services they need.”

“As an emergency medicine physician, I have cared for many seniors in the emergency room, and I know how important it is that they get the resources they need, when they need it. We need to come together to ensure that every senior in America enjoys the dignified, healthy, and secure retirement they deserve,” said Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA).

“I am thankful for the National Hispanic Council on Aging,” expressed Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA). “The work they did organizing last week’s briefing, and their support for Latino Community, is invaluable. I commend them on the hard work for our familia. I hope that, through this year’s summit, they are able to accomplish even more good for our community.”

Following the briefing members of the NHCOA Leaders network from across the country conducted congressional visits with members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce to present a petition with signatures from seniors across the country urging for the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. NHCOA leaders also discussed specific issues impacting Hispanic older adults in their communities.

“[The NHCOA Advocacy Day was an] opportunity to make a difference in the communities we live and serve, an opportunity to be the voice of those suffering from lack of food or proper nutrition, housing, or medical care— to ensure that our older population has the opportunity to live independently, in dignity and self-worth at home and community,” said Jose Perez, Executive Director of Senior Community Outreach Services in McAllen, TX.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for us advocating on behalf of the older adults we serve in southern New Jersey,” expressed Harry Paraison, MPA, Executive Director of DH/Perfil Latino in Millville, NJ. “It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to visit congressional offices and give our seniors a voice. We are working to ensure they have better access to social services so they don’t suffer from hunger, that they don’t have to choose between buying food or filling their prescription medication, and that they have adequate housing.”

“I feel very grateful for the opportunity to represent the senior community of Los Angeles,” said Elizabeth Jimenez, Director of Senior Programs at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation in Los Angeles, CA. “Bringing us together as members of NHCOA gave us the opportunity to share similar challenges and learn  that there is still a lot to do and  continue to be a  voice for our  senior community.”

The 2014 NHCOA Capitol Hill briefing to release the State of Hispanic Older Adults: Stories from the Field report was possible thanks to the support of Lilly, CVS Health, AARP, Comcast, Wellpoint, PhARMA, Pfizer, and Verizon.

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Click here to download a copy of State of Hispanic Older Adults: Stories from the Field.

For pictures of the briefing and congressional visits, visit our Facebook album

Media Advisory: NHCOA Open Forum Tomorrow in Los Angeles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    

MEDIA CONTACT: Patricia Guadalupe

CONTACT NUMBER: (202) 347-9733

August 20, 2014       

 

NHCOA TO HOST OPEN FORUM AS PART OF 2014 REGIONAL MEETING IN LOS ANGELES   Annual meeting empowers Hispanic older adults to be engaged in their communities

LOS ANGELES, CA — 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 — will hold its fourth regional meeting in its 2014 Promoting Communities of Success meeting series in Los Angeles, Ca. on August 19-21.

Each year NHCOA hosts regional meetings in cities across the country with high populations of Hispanics older adults to engage local communities. This year the regional meetings will feature a two day Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training and an Open Forum sponsored by Abbvie, Archstone Foundation, Herbalife, Lilly,  SCAN Foundation, Univision, and Walmart. The purpose of each regional meeting is to understand the challenges facing Hispanic older adults, their families and caregivers; learn about resources available to serve Hispanic older adults and their communities; find ways to connect people to services; and share information with service providers and professionals on best ways to engage Hispanic older adults and their communities.

This year’s Open Forum discussions will include access to healthcare sponsored by the SCAN Foundation, and poverty and hunger in the Hispanic community. With Hispanic seniors currently representing 7% of the U.S. older population and continuing to grow, it is critical that Hispanic older adults are well represented and understood in all areas of U.S. policies.

 MEDIA ADVISORY

 WHO: National Hispanic Council on Aging, the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families and their caregivers

 

WHAT: 2014 Regional Meetings Series: Promoting Communities of Success

 

WHEN: Open Forum

August 21, 2014

8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

 

WHERE: The California Endowment

The Center for Healthy Communities – Yosemite Room

1000 North Alameda St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

MEDIA: For additional information, please contact Patricia Guadalupe at (202) 347-9733.

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NHCOA Regional Meetings: Leveraging the Power of Stories and Grassroots Leadership

Access to health care, Medicare fraud, poverty, and hunger were the most pressing issues discussed at the Miami and Dallas Open Forums, which are part of the National Hispanic Council on Aging’s 2014 Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meeting series. This post was originally published on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on July 3, 2014. NHCOA is a proud founder of the DEC, which works to ensure that the needs and perspectives of vulnerable elders would be heard when and where it mattered. For more information, visit www.diverseelders.org. 

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The data speaks for itself:

  • Over one-quarter of the Hispanic population is in poverty.
  • There are about 750,000 older adults nationwide experiencing hunger and 5 million facing food insecurity. Of these, Hispanic older adults are 20% more likely to be hungry.
  • Latino seniors and diverse elders are more likely to suffer specific chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

However, data indicators, pie charts, and percentages eventually have a desensitizing effect on the reader. Without a face or a story to accompany the statistics, it is difficult to empathize with those affected or gain perspective about the severity of the issue.

As the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, NHCOA relies greatly on community-based organizations that serve Latino seniors and families, as well as community leaders, to understand the needs and concerns of our Hispanic aging population. These are the folks who are the “front lines” — those who witness and are directly affected by issues that keep Latino seniors from aging securely and in the best health possible. In an effort to record these stories, anecdotes, and experiences, as well as promote bottom-up leadership, we launched the Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meeting series in 2011.

To achieve this, NHCOA began traveling to different areas of the country with the highest concentrations of Hispanic older adults and Latino families. By going directly to the community, we eliminate communication barriers, develop stronger ties, and create a unique opportunity for seniors, families, professionals, and local leaders to speak up and engage with each other. Each regional meeting consists of two parts: the Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training and the Open Forum.

The Empowerment & Civic Engagement Training (ECET) is NHCOA’s signature CEU-certified two-day popular education course. It was designed to train local, intergenerational leaders to mobilize their communities and create positive changes through grassroots advocacy campaigns. To date, more than 1,000 community leaders have successfully gone through the training, of which dozens are certified to teach the ECET in their respective communities.

Following the ECET we host an Open Forum, a culturally and linguistically sensitive space that brings together local CBOs, community leaders, seniors, professionals, and local policymakers to connect. We listen to first-hand accounts from Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers detailing concerns and problems they face on a daily basis, and they have the opportunity to connect with local resources and information to advance their quality of life.

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This year’s regional meetings are focused on the issues of healthcare, hunger, and poverty—three pressing issues which are of critical importance to the daily lives of Hispanic older adults. We launched the series mid-May in Miami, FL and recently wrapped up our regional meeting in Dallas, TX. At these Open Forums, we have heard numerous stories of the tough decisions people are making on a daily basis: skipping meals to fill a medical prescription or skipping medication doses to eat more. We have heard stories of Medicare fraud, myths regarding healthcare coverage, prevalent and persistent hunger, and the frustrations they feel each day.

Just as I tell the participants before we start the discussions, these stories make a difference and will have an impact beyond the meeting. After our final regional meeting in Los Angeles in August, we will compile and analyze the information gathered at each Open Forum and issue a report which will be released in September in Washington, DC. (The 20112012 and 2013 versions of this report are available on the NHCOA website.) While we have a long road ahead to solve the problems our diverse elder communities face, working together we can achieve a stronger, golden America for all.

The NHCOA Regional Meeting in Los Angeles will be hosted at the California Endowment from August 19-21, 2014. For more information, contact events@nhcoa.org or visitwww.nhcoa.org. The 2014 Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meeting series is made possible with the support of Abbvie, Lilly, and Univision.

NHCOA Congratulates Mayor Julian Castro on HUD Nomination

Washington, DCDr. 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 caregivers—  congratulated San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro on his nomination as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Following a successful confirmation by the United States Senate, Mayor Castro will replace Secretary Shaun Donovan, who is concurrently nominated as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

“As the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families and their caregivers, NHCOA has long identified the growing need for adequate and affordable housing for older adults as one of its core priorities. It is therefore to our delight that President Obama has tapped a fresh and energetic public servant to this high and critical post.

“Adequate housing is fundamental to both health and one’s quality of life. Moreover, housing costs are generally the highest expense in a household budget. Fluctuations in rent or mortgage can put families in economically precarious situations. This is especially true for seniors living on a fixed budget without options to increase their income.

“Latino homeowners were hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis. As a result, more Latino families now live in substandard and overcrowded rental housing than five years ago. This is a growing crisis in the Hispanic community, and alarmingly so among Latino seniors.

“NHCOA is committed to alleviating the housing crisis for seniors by implementing public policy practices to ensure that all low-income seniors can afford to age in place, including advocating for affordable housing facilities and homeownership opportunities.

“It is towards this overarching goal that we look forward to the swift confirmation of Mayor Castro as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the U.S. Senate. With his leadership and our strategic partnerships and initiatives, we hope to make new inroads towards alleviating the housing crisis, especially as it relates to multigenerational poverty and providing adequate, affordable housing for all diverse older Americans.”

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NHCOA Announces New Board Chair

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Executive Director Dr. Octavio Martinez sucedes Dr. Tom Nelson as head of NHCOA Board of Directors

 Washington, DC— Today, 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— named Dr. Octavio Martinez as the organization’s Board Chair. Dr. Martinez sucedes Dr. Tom Nelson, who served as NHCOA’s Chairman from 2011-2013:

“Octavio has made tremendous contributions to NHCOA since joining the Board of Directors in 2012. Over the years, his insight, commitment, and leadership have been invaluable to the organization and its constituents. On behalf of NHCOA’s Board of Directors, I congratulate Octavio on this new position. We foresee a productive and strong working relationship that will translate into opportunities that will add to the organization’s momentum and future successes,” Dr. Cruz said.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tom for his multiple years of dedicated leadership on the NHCOA Board. His guidance and strategic vision were beneficial to NHCOA and he will be sorely missed. On behalf of NHCOA and the Board, we wish Tom well in his future endeavors, and are honored to call him a friend and a colleague,” she added.

“I am honored and pleased to be named NHCOA’s Chairman. In light of our current demographic reality, the work NHCOA does is increasingly relevant and important to the future of our country. I look forward to working closely with Dr. Cruz and the NHCOA familia in this new capacity to fulfill the organization’s important mission of working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers,” said Dr. Martinez.

Dr. Martinez currently is the fifth executive director and the first Hispanic to lead the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health since its creation in 1940. The foundation’s grants and programs support mental health services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in the state of Texas. Dr. Martinez is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a member of the American College of Mental Health Administration, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Texas Society for Psychiatric Physicians. He is licensed to practice medicine in Texas and North Carolina and is also on the board of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities Region VI Health Equity Board.

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NHCOA Joins Older Americans Month Celebration

This year’s theme, “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.”, focuses on injury prevention among 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, and provide them with information to make their golden years more healthy and active. This year’s theme, “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.”, focuses on the injury prevention. According to the Administration for Community Living, unintentional injuries among older Americans result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 injury-related deaths each year. 

“Each year, during the month of May we celebrate the legacy of our country’s most valuable treasure, older Americans. Their hard work, their example, their experiences, and their contributions are the foundations we build on today. Older Americans Month is an opportunity to recognize our seniors for their efforts as productive citizens in our society, as well as showcase information that can improve their quality of lives.

“At NHCOA, we center our public policy and programming efforts around 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 many challenges, including a history of low wages, language barriers, and access to healthcare. While, these barriers are 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 ‘Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.’ we join in raising awareness about different ways we can keep our seniors safe to ensure they age securely, and in the best health possible, including injury and fall prevention, elder abuse, and improper use of medicine. Together, we can help older Americans across the country lead longer and healthier lives.”

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NHCOA Applauds Senator Ron Wyden’s Appointment as Senate Finance Committee Chairman

Senator Wyden is a Longstanding Advocate for Older Americans

 Washington, DC— 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 caregivers— today congratulated Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on his new leadership role as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee:

“Senator Wyden, who began his career as an advocate for Oregon’s seniors, is a longstanding and passionate advocate for older Americans and aging issues in the U.S. Senate,” expressed Dr. Cruz.

“Throughout his tenure in Congress, Senator Wyden has consistently and tenaciously fought on behalf of older Americans to ensure they can age with dignity and in the best health possible. Most recently, Senator Wyden was successful in protecting the Medicare Advantage program during the health care reform debate. He also created and passed “Independence at Home”, the first home-based health program for older adults with chronic illnesses, which is now part of the Affordable Care Act.

“As Senator Wyden assumes the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, we are confident he will continue to serve as a true consensus-builder. And, we look forward to his ongoing leadership on the issues most impacting our most vulnerable populations, including older Americans,” concluded Dr. Cruz.

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