New report highlights needs of diverse elders

The Diverse Elder Coalition presented a new report, Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, addresses needs and aging issues across a spectrum of minority populations, to congressional staffers this week.

The coalition advocates to improve the experience of older adults in racially and ethnically diverse communities through policies and programs. It reaches across racial and ethnic peoples and includes Native Americans, Alaska Natives and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

As our country continues to become more diverse, so will generations of older adults, presenting unique needs that our nation must address. This report is vital for ensuring the well-being of all older adults in America. People who find themselves at the intersections of racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity populations face unique vulnerabilities as they get older, and this report provides policy recommendations to bring more economic security to people as they age.

The briefing stressed the critical need to maintain and enhance safety-net programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As a group, each of the populations identified in the report experience poorer health outcomes, lower lifetime income, and greater employment challenges than the general population. These barriers throughout life have a detrimental impact on the lives of these populations when they get older and need more care.

Aging service providers need to be prepared to meet the special needs and cultural competence awareness to address lack of access to support and health care and the barrier of fears of discrimination.

For Social Security, policy recommendations included an enhanced benefit more accurately based on real costs of living including ever increasing medical expenses for people and for providing equality in benefits for same-sex couples. The Task Force applauds this new report and calls for people to reach out to their members of Congress and tell them we need stronger safety net programs for elders who live at risk of greater poverty as they age. Your members of Congress will be home in August. Ask them where they stand at town halls, or drop by their district offices.

Now is the time to make your voice heard. And find out where candidates stand on these issues in your community, your state and those running for Congress by asking them.