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Hispanic Older Adults Urge Administration for Community Living to Meet Their Needs

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Bianca Perez

PHONE: 551-206-8846



The National Hispanic Council on Aging delivered comments from their constituents to the Administration for Community Living, asking the Administration to take into account the linguistic and cultural needs of Hispanic older adults when creating programs and services for the aging population. NHCOA also asked the ACL to partner with Latino expert organizations such as NHCOA, to develop ways to close the gap between the services available and the specific needs of this hard-to-reach population.

Marcos Bautista sending his comments to ACL

The comments from NHCOA’s members and allies were collected as a part of a collaborative effort led by the Diverse Elders Coalition, a coalition that advocates for policies and programs that improve aging in our communities as American Indian/Alaska Native elders, Asian American/Pacific Islander elders, Black elders, Hispanic elders, and LGBT elders. NHCOA is one of the five national organizations in the Diverse Elders Coalition.


“We want to thank the Administration for Community Living for giving us this opportunity to voice our opinions, and listening to our concerns and guidance,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO. “I am delighted that we are uniting our collective voices to bring attention to the disparities that we see in our diverse communities, with regard to access of services.”

Fatima VelezIt was empowering to see our community uniting their voices for the benefit of our seniors, “I could see how many older Latinos could benefit if the Administration and DEC work together towards a common goal, which is improving the lives of many silent voices such as our Hispanic older adults” said a NHCOA Constituent.

Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition submitted more than 4,000 comments to the ACL; a meeting request to discuss these comments in greater depth will be submitted to the ACL this week.



5 tips and 1 Cardinal Rule: Event Planning for Diverse Seniors

Planning events can be stressful and challenging, which is why focusing on the needs of your audience is fundamental. The more you know about your participants, the easier it is for you to understand and anticipate their needs. This is especially true for events targeting older adults. 

Here are 5 tips to help you plan for a successful event:

Location, location, location.

The venue of the meeting or event is extremely important when it comes to Latino seniors. This key decision alone could make or break your event. When choosing a venue, you should consider the following:

  • The venue location should be as close as possible to the senior centers or senior housing the participants are coming from. In some cases, it is even better to host the event or activity on-site, if possible. Older adults often cannot move far on their own and would also prefer to be comfortable in their homes or senior centers.
  • The venue should be as accesible as possible: ramps, elevators, and handrails. Facilities located on a ground floor level where elevators aren’t necessary are optimal. Distance from the entrance to the event space should also be considered. Long walking distances are tiring and difficult for some seniors. Lastly, proximity of bathrooms to the event space is extremely important.

Determine the best time and date.

When deciding on a date and time, consider the seniors’ weekly schedules. For example, if you are inviting older adults from a local senior center or housing unit, talk to the program manager or administrator. Older adults who regularly attend a center or are residents of a senior-living community are used to a schedule of programmed events and activities. So, they would rather not miss out bingo or crafts day to attend an event they aren’t familiar with. As a rule of thumb, the best time of the day to host senior-centered events is in the morning, when they are most active.

Ensure your content and information is age sensitive and culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Whatever message or information you want to convey must be easy and appropriate for seniors to read and understand. Fact sheets, brochures, flyers and other printed materials should avoid hard-to-read fonts (narrow, thick, handwriting or cursive); small print (12 points or lower); bold, underlined, and italicized type face; and bright, neon colors.

Font Example-01

Any printed information should be available in both English and Spanish. Never assume which language they prefer or how well they speak it. Language is a sensitive issue, and many can easily get offended if they cannot understand everything being said or distributed at the event. Spanish translations shouldn’t be literal and should use standard Spanish vocabulary. Avoid slangs and expressions that could be misinterpreted or confusing.

Other tips:

  • Bi-fold brochures are easier to read than tri-fold brochures.
  • Print English and Spanish versions of a one-page flyer front and back on a single page. This saves paper and allows seniors to read it in the language they prefer.
  • Keep language short and concise.
  • Use one or two good images if possible.
  • Keep designs simple and clean.

Provide transportation. 

Many senior centers and seniors homes don’t provide or have consistent transportation. And, only a small percentage of seniors can drive and/or have a loved one who can take them to an event. To maximize participation and interest, consider contracting a transportation company to shuttle between a pick-up location and the venue. These vehicles should be handicap accessible and there should be a coordinator or a person on-board to supervise at all times. Also, be sure to have staff waiting for seniors at the entrance to greet them and ensure they make it to the event space as swiftly and comfortably as possible.

Serve an appetizing and appropriate meal.

Food and beverage choices are important when it comes to event for seniors. It is more likely than not that the majority of older adults have specific dietary restrictions and special diets due to illnesses or chronic conditions like diabetes and hear disease. Any meals served should be both healthy, filling, and appealing. (They may be skipping a meal or snack at the senior center to attend your event.) But most importantly, these meals should be easy for them to eat. Avoid hard breads or crunchy, stringy foods that can it harder for them to chew and swallow. Also, Latino seniors are used to eating foods and flavors from their native countries, such as avocado, potatoes, rice, and beans. Whole grain rice versus white, steamed chicken versus fried, and baked potatoes versus french fries are culturally appropriate and healthy options. Beverages should be low in sugar and without carbonation. Bottled water, unsweetened tea (with raw sugar available), hot tea, coffee, and natural juices are good options. In addition, whenever possible we ensure that each table has a basket with fresh fruit or granola snacks so they have a snack to take home. (In some of the regions we have been to, seniors experience high levels of threat of hunger. In fact, many eat only once or twice a day.)

And, the cardinal rule of event planning for seniors: all the effort and care you put into making the event comfortable, interesting, and enjoyable for them will make their day.

Seniors often times experience isolation and loneliness even when they live in a community or attend a community center. Being kind and showing an interest in them, their thoughts, and their needs makes them feel special and cared about.

Hopefully these tips are helpful in your efforts. Happy event planning!


Aging and Chronic Kidney Disease: Are You at Risk?

Today is World Kidney Day, and while we may not think about our kidneys very much, they are vital organs that we need to function properly especially as we age. This year WKD is focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its impact on aging.

Why take care of our kidneys?

Our kidneys help us remove waste and excess fluids from our bodies through urine. Kidneys, however, also play other important roles, such as release the hormones that regular our blood pressure and produce vitamin D, which helps to strengthen and keep bones healthy.

If you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, it is even more important to take care of your kidneys because you face a higher risk of CKD:

Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure has CKD. Kidney disease also increases your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

For more information, check out this CDC fact sheet on CKD.

Who is at risk for kidney disease?

The problem with kidney disease is that its symptoms are not obvious, making early detection difficult. In fact, more than 10% of adults in the United States have CDK and are not aware of their condition.

Risk factors include:

–       Being Latino

–       Being over the age of 50

–       Suffering from high blood pressure

–       Having diabetes

–       Having a relative with chronic kidney disease

What can I do to prevent CKD and help my parent/grandparent take care of their kidneys?

Here are some kidney-pleasing tips:

–       Check your blood pressure routinely. Normal blood pressure is at or below 120/80. Click here to learn more.

–       Schedule routine checks up that include urine and blood tests. (High levels of protein could indicate kidney disease. Also, your blood creatinine levels along with other factors, such as age, race, and gender will determine your glomerular filtration rate or GFR. GFR indicates how much kidney function you have.)

–       Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day, and drink water. (Experts tend to recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day. This could be water, tea, or juice. Remember that certain beverages have more sugar than others.)

–       Keep a healthy, low-sodium diet.

–       Participate in daily physical activity. Exercise is good for everyone!

–       If you or your loved is diabetic, consistently check blood sugar levels to ensure they are under control.

Watch this: The 8 Golden Rules and read this: CDC Kidney Health Tips.

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Myth vs. Reality: HIV/AIDS

In 2009, nearly one fourth (23%) of people diagnosed with AIDS in the United States were ages 50+. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that by 2015 that figure will double. Older adults — especially Latino seniors who are at a disproportionate risk — are often disconnected from and overlooked in the HIV/AIDS dialogue. However, it is crucial to involve everyone in the discussion of how to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. One way of doing this by dispelling common myths seniors may have:

Myth: HIV is a contagious disease, like a flu or common cold.
Reality: HIV is not transmitted through saliva, sneezes, or sweat. Casual contact (shaking hands, sharing utensils, or kissing) doesn’t transmit the virus either.

Myth: People infected with HIV look unhealthy.
Reality: People living with HIV (PLWH) look no different from any other person for several years after being infected with the virus, and may continue infecting others. If untreated after 8 to 10 years, then AIDS will develop, a deadly complication of HIV. On the other hand, those who get treated as soon as possible can have a good quality of life and potentially never develop AIDS.

Myth: Once you are infected with HIV, you will get AIDS right away.
Reality: Those who get tested early, start getting treated upon learning their HIV-positive status, and stick to the treatment, can potentially live the rest of their lives without developing AIDS. Once infected it may take 8 to 10 years to develop AIDS, a deadly complication of HIV.

Myth: Older adults are immune to HIV.
Reality: Anyone can get infected with HIV at any age. In fact, nearly 25% of people diagnosed with AIDS in the United States were ages 50+ in 2009[1].

Myth: There is no point in getting treated for HIV, I will die anyways.
Reality: PLWH who are under treatment can keep their virus (load) count very low, and live their lives with HIV as a chronic disease. In addition, there is evidence that people whose HIV is well controlled with anti-viral medications are also less likely to transmit HIV to others. Therefore, treatment is also a way to prevent the spread of HIV.

[1] HIV Surveillance Report: Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2009.

Make 2013 a year for ensuring workers and caregivers have paid family leave

Another of NHCOA’s resolutions in 2013 is ensuring that caregivers and workers have paid family leave because no one should have to choose between their job and their family.

The ability to take paid time off of work to recover from an illness or care for a loved one is one important way to stop the spread of diseases. However, those who need paid time off the most don’t necessarily get this benefit from their employer.
Continue reading “Make 2013 a year for ensuring workers and caregivers have paid family leave”

Henry Cisneros: U.S. Should Make ‘Life-Long Homes’ A Priority

Provided by Kaiser Health News

By Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News

What will it take for Americans to age successfully in place? This question has immediate importance for policymakers and families as an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 years old every day. It’s the subject of a new book, “Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America,” authored by more than a dozen leading aging and housing experts and co-edited by Henry Cisneros, a four-term mayor of San Antonio and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.




Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros speaks at the Center for American Progress in Washington in 2009 (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)


Cisneros, who now runs a company specializing in urban real estate, spent an hour discussing his thoughts about aging in place with reporter Judith Graham. That interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. You start this book talking about your elderly mother.  Tell me about her.

A. My mom and dad bought the home across the alley from her mother’s home in 1945.  It was a lower-middle-class neighborhood of civil service workers — all Latinos. It had the feeling of a Norman Rockwell picture, only all the faces were brown.

My dad passed away in 2006 at age 89, having had a stroke some years before. But my mom, 87, lives there still. The house is essentially the same as it was, with some adjustments. We put a ramp on the side of the house leading to a deck. We raised the toilet, lowered the sinks, created a walk-in shower.  Changed the lighting in the den so my dad could read. Put in window guards, an alarm, and outdoor lighting for my mom because the neighborhood is somewhat in decline.

Q. Do you see her often?

A. I try to visit her about every second or third day, but I talk to her every day by phone.  She is a classic case of a person aging in place. She’s a healthy, lanky, tall woman who’s always been physically strong.   But in recent years she’s started to slow down. She manages all her own affairs. I don’t think there’s a tractor strong enough to pull her from that house.

Until recently, on three sides, all her neighbors were her age or older. The lady to the left died this year at 97. The lady to the right went to a nursing home and died in her late 80s. And the lady across the street died at 90-plus. All stayed in their homes until very late. Aging in place in that neighborhood means older women living on their own.

Q. What lessons do you take from your mom’s experience?

A. Seniors fear being unable to communicate, being lonely, feeling insecure.  Especially people who all their lives have had other people around them — family, neighbors — and now they go entire days and never see anybody.

Imagine being older, a step slower, a bit more fragile. Add to that being lonely, edging to depression, and unsure about how you’re going to get everything done that you used to do. But wanting above all to stay in your own home and keep on being independent. That’s hard.

Q. What kinds of policies do you think are needed?

A. First, I’d like to see us commit as a nation to creating lifelong homes. Only 4 percent of the 65-plus population goes to a nursing home. Most are at home for a long, long time. We should make this a priority, just as we did with creating more energy efficient homes.

This could involve certifying a package of age-related home improvements — the kinds of things we did for my parents — and coming up with public and private strategies for financial support.

Second, we ought to be thinking about how we accessorize communities for an aging population. Today, we build parks for children. Imagine a park where older people would have stations for exercise. Think about age-appropriate recreation facilities. Think about how we make transit available, so people who no longer drive can get to the doctor.

As we build new communities we should focus on walkability — making sure that older people can walk to facilities they need, like groceries and pharmacies.

Q. Can you point to examples?

A. There are communities that are now rethinking zoning policies so that granny flats can be built on the same lots as larger size homes. Davis, Calif., has rethought its zoning codes with that in mind.

There are places using the high school library as the community library. So, elderly people can work there or volunteer there and interface with the next generation.

I think we’ll be recycling older communities in many parts of the U.S. — clearing away obsolete buildings and reconfiguring them as elderly housing. The recession has created a lot of sites that are no longer economically viable. Strip centers, even regional malls are being remade with housing for the elderly in mind.

We also need to generate prototypes for new age appropriate homes for people who are leaving McMansions and looking for a smaller home.

Q. What about affordable housing?

A. We need to double down on very successful programs that have produced affordable housing for the elderly. Low-income housing tax credits — we need more. And HUD’s Section 202 (supportive housing for the elderly) program — we need more of that. In some respects, this is the least problematic area because we know what to do — we just need to do more of it.

What we don’t know how to do very well is help people who are middle-class but who are about to fall off the dual cliff of aging and frailty while living on fixed incomes and aging in place.

Q. Yet, this is an era of budget cuts. How do you make the case for more financial assistance for programs of this kind?

A. As a country, we owe it to our seniors. It’s the right thing to do. It is unacceptable to leave a large segment of the population on their own at the most frail time of their lives. I also think we can make the case that cost savings can be achieved by keeping people living independently as long as possible instead of going to assisted-living or nursing home facilities.

Q. What about the suburbs?

A. The baby boomers are the first American suburban generation. But the suburbs are the worst place to age because they’re so unwalkable and totally dependent on the automobile. Living in a cul de sac is really hard when you lose access to your car. So these communities have to think of new strategies.

Q. One of the authors in your book writes about his personal longevity plan.   Do you have one?

A. I turned 65 this year and I do have a plan that involves daily exercise and fitness. My personal role models are people who don’t think about retirement but have created either businesses or activities that will allow them to be active until the very end.

I will always be based in San Antonio.  I live in my grandfather’s old house, which I refurbished, one mile away from where I grew up and one block away from our neighborhood church. When you give this much to a place it becomes part of you and there are a lot of things you don’t want to abandon.

National Hispanic SMP: Delaying to File for Medicare Could Hurt Seniors Pockets

The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your Medicare, the less likely you are to be a victim of Medicare fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically, and age appropriate manner.

The number 65 is a key number in Medicare terms. It is the age that a person to eligible to file for Medicare benefits. Given the economic downturn, there are increasingly more seniors who continue working past 65, some of who end up postponing filing for Medicare in fear of it hindering them.

However, it is all the contrary: failing to file for Medicare in a timely fashion will result in Part B monthly premium hikes—10% for each 12-month period that a senior could have been covered but wasn’t. The worst part is that penalty is permanent, resulting in unnecessary additional expenses at a time when every penny counts.

Seniors have a six-month window to file for Medicare, which starts three months prior to turning 65 and three month after. Those who have filed for Social Security benefits will automatically be enrolled in Medicare, but those who haven’t must enroll themselves at a local Social Security Administration office or online.

Note: Any person who turns 65 is eligible for Medicare even if (s)he can’t receive Social Security benefits.

To learn more, visit