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Day Seven: We are all leaders!

Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family.   

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Leadership is a loaded word with many possible meanings. It may even seem exclusive, when in reality it’s the complete opposite. However, when we think about leaders, the images that pop into our heads almost immediately are public figures, presidents and CEOs, community leaders, and elected officials. However, leadership is a trait that each of us can exercise in our daily lives through our day-to-day activities. We don’t need to be in front of a TV camera or behind a podium to be a leader. More than a title or a position, being a leader is a way of life. Therefore, each and every one of us is capable of leading for positive change, whether at our jobs, in our homes, or in our communities.

NHCOA Miami Open ForumYou can be a leader wherever you may be, and the impact of your leadership is infinite. Whether one person or thousands, when you listen, advocate, and actively work to improve the lives of those around you— even if in the smallest of ways— you are being a leader.

 

 

 

Every year, NHCOA has the opportunity to travel to different regions of the country to offer our signature Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training, a popular education course that dispels leadership myths to help participants focus on the leader they carry within. We highlight their individual and distinctive talents, and how these skills can be leveraged within a group setting to reach common goals. Lastly, participants are armed with the tools and resources to create and execute a community advocacy campaign.

For us, the most satisfying part of the training is when participants discover their own potential, and are able to identify the important role they play in safeguarding the well-being of their families and communities. The intergenerational nature of the training allows youth, adults, and older adults to combine their talents, wisdom, and energy in such ways that the diversity and uniqueness of each individual is recognized and celebrated. It also inevitably adds a sprinkle of hope and optimism for the future when you see teamwork across generations.

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The truth is you will never find in a book that contains the experience, the knowledge, and lessons learned our seniors have accumulated throughout the years. However, they often feel unempowered, nuisances, and worse even, forgotten. Therefore, one of the main reasons NHCOA offers these trainings is to underscore and leverage the talents and knowledge of each individual, including our older adults, so they can give back to, and empower, their communities.

During the holiday season, we invite you to reflect on our role as leaders in our own lives and how we can offer our talents to create positive change in our families, communities, neighborhoods, and places of employment and faith.

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 Wishes You a Happy Older Americans Month!

By Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO

NHCOA is committed to enriching the lives of older Hispanic adults. As we celebrate Older Americans Month, we invite you to explore the different ways NHCOA is working to improve the lives of thousands of U.S. Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. Below are some examples of our work in the areas of health, economic security, leadership development and empowerment, and housing.

As NHCOA continues to find new ways to better serve Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, we thank you for everything you do in your families, communities, cities, and states. We also invite you continue joining our efforts to ensure that our most cherished and vulnerable population can age with dignity, economic security, and in the best possible health.

In commemoration of Older Americans Month, here is a look at some of the work we do at NHCOA:

Leadership Development & Empowerment

Leadership and empowerment, one of NHCOA’s top priorities, is at the core of any successful advocacy work. As part of its work in this area, NHCOA convenes key community grassroots leaders, including Hispanic older adults, their caregivers, advocates, and professionals to connect, network, and gain culturally and linguistically competent advocacy tools.

Through NHCOA’s Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training (ECET), grassroots leadership is cultivated by helping participants develop a strong, collective voice to speak on behalf, and represent our Hispanic older adults at all levels of government and community. This year, NHCOA will train a second generation of ECET leaders across the country and drive voter registration.

Economic Security

Health care fraud is one of the most pervasive types of fraud targeting seniors. Given that harder-to-reach populations, such as Hispanic older adults, are disproportionately victimized, NHCOA in conjunction with the U.S. Administration on Aging is working to fight Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP).

Through the NHSMP, NHCOA is committed to being an active player in curbing Medicare fraud by providing assistance and capacity building to local community-based organizations (CBOs) and state SMPs in areas with high concentrations of Hispanic older adults, as well as providing resources for Hispanic older adults and their caregivers.

Health & Well-Being

As part of its work in the area of health and well-being, NHCOA implements a variety of programs, including:

Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative is a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative focused on HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts directly targeting Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers.

Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) is a partnership with the CDC to raise awareness among Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers about the importance of getting vaccinations through adulthood to protect families and communities from preventable infectious diseases.

Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) is a national program that educates and informs Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers on how to prevent and/or manage diabetes and its complications. Its current expansion is supported by the Walmart Foundation.

NHCOA is also working to increase Alzheimer’s disease knowledge by conducting research to understand the attitudes, level of stigma, level of knowledge, and challenges within the Hispanic community as it relates to both caregivers and health care providers. The findings of this study could potentially serve as the basis for interventions designed to ensure effective management of Alzheimer’s within the Hispanic community.

Housing

NHCOA owns and administers low-income senior housing buildings located in Washington, DC and Garden City, KS. As the Latino community has lost significant household wealth, we are working to ensure Hispanic older adults have access to affordable, quality housing so they can age in place and in their communities.