A coalition made up of seven leading national aging organizations—the Diverse Elders Coalition—today released a policy report on the economic issues facing vulnerable older people, notably Black elders; Hispanic elders; Asian and Pacific Islander elders; American Indian and Alaska Native elders; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders. Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders describes the issues facing elders of color and LGBT elders, who together will represent a majority of older adults in the United States by 2050. The report also offers policy recommendations in several areas key to the well-being of older people, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, health care reform, and more.
The Diverse Elders Coalition was founded in 2010 with the purpose of promoting federal policy solutions that enhance the quality of life for our country’s diverse aging communities. The members of the Diverse Elders Coalition include: Asociación Nacional Pro Personas Mayores; National Asian Pacific Center on Aging; National Caucus & Center on Black Aged; National Hispanic Council on Aging; National Indian Council on Aging; Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders; and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.
"The population of older people in this country is growing in both numbers and diversity, yet still remains largely neglected in public policy and aging-related programs," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "Through this report and news blog, the Diverse Elders Coalition has provided a clear blueprint of the major economic security challenges facing diverse elder communities, as well as clear recommendations for responsive policy reform."
Despite their growing presence in the US, elders of color and LGBT elders face significant disparities in health and health care access, economic security, housing, employment and more. Many encounter aging providers who lack the cultural and linguistic competence to address their unique needs, and many others face outright discrimination and neglect from our aging and health care system. More broadly, programs aimed at older people rarely explicitly serve elders of color and LGBT elders. To address these issues, some key recommendations from the report include:
- Preserve and reform essential safety net programs for older adults, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, to cover a broader range of vulnerable elders who have historically been excluded from accessing its benefits;
- Build the capacity of minority-, American Indian/Alaska Native-, and LGBT-led organizations to deliver more programs to their communities, which serve a critical role in helping diverse elders enroll in a wide variety of programs and services for which they are eligible but would otherwise not receive.
- Expand and strengthen senior employment programs, such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only such federal program aimed at low-income older adults; and more.
The report, authored by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, is available at DiverseElders.org, the newly launched news blog of the Diverse Elders Coalition. This blog features original commentary and news about diverse older people in the U.S., an online library of publications related to diverse older people, and policy analysis and recommendations from the Diverse Elders Coalition. Over time, the blog will feature original commentary from leading experts in these fields, as well as a digital collection of personal stories of older people from around the country.
"Too often, the policies meant to support older people ignore, underfund or discriminate against elders of color and LGBT elders. This report and news blog are drawing critical attention to the ways in which we can begin repairing these inequities," said Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE.
Next week, members from the Diverse Elders Coalition will host a Congressional briefing to discuss the implications noted in the report and what policy makers can do to better support a growing yet vulnerable demographic of elders who are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native and LGBT. The briefing will take place on Wednesday, July 25 at 10:00 am.
To learn more about the Diverse Elders Coalition, including its history and achievements since 2010, please visit DiverseElders.org.