By Nicolás Peña
Washington, D.C. October, 2017.- More than 9 million Latinos in the United States are caring for a family member without receiving any kind of compensation. This represents a challenge when they need to balance the many responsibilities of their lives in conjunction with caring for their loved ones. Their average income is $39,000 per year, well below the national average of $54,700.
In response, on October 20, 2017, The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), led the Hispanic Caregiving Thought Leaders Roundtable, which was held at the American Cancer Society headquarters in New York City. The attendees concluded that in order to achieve the goal of wellbeing and aging with dignity for older adults, it is necessary to guarantee the emotional and physical health of those who take care of them, as well as their financial stability.
Creating a coalition to guarantee funds for the training of those who care for Hispanic older adults was one of the most important recommendations made by the more than 30 experts who attended at NHCOA’s invitation, and who are recognized leaders standing out in the protection and guidance of seniors in New York City.
“We are developing a national strategy to train Hispanic caregivers, and that is why during 2017 we have been consulting nationwide to determine where they are located and what their actual needs and priorities are. The results will also help to build a database that will allow them get more resources and information”, said Dr. Yanira Cruz, President of NHCOA.
The proposals and recommendations that achieved consensus and were adopted as goals by those attending this roundtable, among many issues discussed, were: Identifying resources that are linguistically and culturally appropriate for Hispanic caregivers, sensitizing and educating employers on how to provide support for those who have to share their regular jobs with the responsibilities of caring for a loved one, creating campaigns demanding decent wages and salaries, as well as providing health plans specific to their needs, and fighting all forms of discrimination.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to convene stakeholders in order to identify the real needs of those who are taking care of a family member. In order to become the best caregiver possible it is important to realize that this will only be achieved if caregivers first take good care of themselves,” said Dr. Anderson Torres, president of RAIN Total Care Inc., who was the facilitator of this roundtable.
According to experts, Hispanics are more likely to develop Alzheimers. Caregivers who care for a family member with this illness often find it to be much more emotionally stressful than other types of caregiving. Therefore, the Alzheimer’s Association and NHCOA have announced a national alliance. “We are happy to work with NHCOA,” said Marshawn Brown, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Alzheimer’s Association. “This alliance will help us to reach a vulnerable population with needed resources and information to help individuals living with the disease and their families better navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s.
Yvette Peña, Vice President for Multicultural Leadership Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy- AARP, shared with the attendees a screening of Cada Paso del Camino, a documentary produced by AARP addressing the realities of Hispanic caregivers in the United States. “Latinos don’t realize that they are investing more than 50% of their time in the care of a loved one, and often they do not assume themselves as caregivers.” Peña highlighted.
The following list below represents the contributors and participants who were present at The Hispanic Caregiving Thought Leaders Roundtable in New York City –
Dr. Anderson Torres – President & CEO – R.A.I.N. Total Care, Inc.
Dra. Yanira Cruz – President & CEO – NHCOA.
Maggie Castro, Associate Director of Community Outreach – AARP New York.
Yvette Peña, Vice President, Multicultural Leadership Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy- AARP.
Denise Gosselin, Policy Associate within the New York Academy of Medicine’s Healthy Aging Unit.
Marshawn Brown, Director, Diversity & Inclusion for Alzheimer’s Association.
La Toya Williams , Senior Manager, Primary Care Systems from American Cancer Society, Inc.
Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, Senior Researcher, Center for Urban Future.
Mari Umpierre, PhD, Mt. Sinai Director of Behavioral Health & Research.
Carmen Nuñez, Program Director – Riverstone Sr. Life Services.
Carolina Hoyos, LMSW, Director – DFTA Caregiver Resource Center.
Caroline Rosenthal Gelman, PhD.
Helene Velazquez – American Diabetes Association.
Katherine Martinez, LMSW, Deputy Director, Presbyterian Senior Services.
Lisette Sosa-Dickson, LCSW, Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Elderly Council – RAICES.
Jenna McDavid, National Managing Coordinator – Diverse Elders Coalition.
Andrea Zaldivar, Ed.D, MS, ANP-BC CDE MJHS – Certified Diabetes Educator.
Karol Tapias, Associate Executive Director – Live On NY.
Guillermo Chacon, President Latino Commission on AIDS, founder Hispanic Health Network, Board member of New York Immigration Coalition & Latino Jewish Coalition.
Maria Salales, BSW, Caregiver Support Specialist, Care NYC Manhattan at Union Settlement Corsi House Neighborhood Senior Center.
Licet Valois, LMSW, MPS- Care & Support Program Manager, Alzheimer’s Association NYC Chapter.
Carlos Martinez, President & CEO, United Home Care & the Residences of UHC.
Jim Sherry, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.
Alek Chandra, GRIOT Circle in Brooklyn.
Jaime Torres , Vice President of Community Relations & Partnerships Urban Health Plan.
Claribel Estrella Blake, MPH Program Director, Member Engagement and Community Outreach, Empire BCBS HealthPlus.
Lillian Kreig, District Manager – Social Security Administration.
Jorge Vidal, Casa de Esperanza National Latin@ Network.
Luis Ureña, Caregiver.
Juliana Cardenas, Caregiver.
Nelsy Vasquez Morales, Catholic Charity Community Services.
Dr. Emma Tsui, Assistant Professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.
Daniel Leyva, Director – Latino Religious Leadership Program.
The Hispanic Caregiving Thought Leaders Roundtable in New York City was sponsored by: AARP, the Hartford Foundation, Alzheimer Association, Verizon, Phrma, Abbvie, Abbott, Eli Lilly, Anthem, Pfizer, United Healthcare Community & State and the Social Security Administration, American Cancer Society, Inc.