From Huffington Post: (click for full article)
This Wednesday, seven organizations known as the Diverse Elders Coalition will hold a Congressional briefing to discuss the policy implications of America's aging boom. As millions enter retirement age in the next few decades and as this country becomes increasingly more diverse, the number of older people who are Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native will grow exponentially -- as will the number of elders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). This begs two fundamental questions: Is our country's aging network paying particular attention to older populations who are more vulnerable? And if not, what can lawmakers do to correct this neglect?
According to a report issued last week by the Diverse Elders Coalition, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double to roughly 80 million over the next three decades. Similarly, the Administration on Aging reports that communities of color, across populations, will grow dramatically by 2050. For example, between 2008 and 2050, the Latino older population will grow from 6.8 to 19.8 percent of the U.S. population age 65 and older. In that time frame, the number of LGBT elders will double to more than three million, according to an estimate offered by SAGE, the leading national nonprofit focused on issues of LGBT aging.
Yet behind these numbers is a grimmer reality. Elders of color and LGBT elders grapple with profound disparities across areas related to health and well-being. And while the rates and manifestations for these disparities differ by population group, a heightened vulnerability is constant. Many of these elders have lived a lifetime of discrimination, only to find themselves aging into a system that perpetuates inequality: aging providers who lack the cultural and linguistic competence to manage their unique needs, a lack of targeted funding for programs directed at these populations and barriers in the laws and programs meant precisely to protect all people as they age. As one example, same-sex partners are denied basic benefits under Social Security and Medicaid, an inequality that strips LGBT older people of a vital support system and spirals many into poverty. More broadly, the safety net programs that low-income older people rely on are under increased scrutiny and attack. If Congress weakens Social Security, it's poor and low-income elders of color and LGBT elders who will bear the brunt.