Common Threads December 2015:
Year In Review
As 2015 comes to an end, we at the Diverse Elders Coalition are reflecting on the accomplishments of the coalition and its five member organizations. Read on for some highlights of the past year and excitement for the work still to come.
White House Conference on Aging
For much of 2015, the Diverse Elders Coalition and its member organizations were focused on the White House Conference on Aging. At the conference’s regional forums around the nation, during the main WHCOA event in DC, and after the conference wrapped, we continue to advocate for the inclusion of our communities of color, American Indian/Alaska Native communities, and LGBT communities in the development of an integrated U.S. aging policy. The Diverse Elders Coalition was mentioned by name during Sec. Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s presentation, and many questions were asked throughout the day by advocates from our communities. Click here for more on our efforts and responses to the conference.
Bringing Culturally- and Linguistically- Competent Care to AAPI Elders
The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) received two grants this year that will provide culturally- and linguistically-competent services to Asian and Pacific Islander American elders. In July, NAPCA announced that they had received a five-year grant to serve as the national resource center on AAPI aging. Additionally, in October, NAPCA received an additional grant to serve AAPI Medicare beneficiaries. These awards will help NAPCA and the Diverse Elders Coalition better serve and support our AAPI elders.
Sharing Stories and Making Recommendations for Hispanic Aging
In October, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) released their annual report, “Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Recommendations from the Field 2015.” This groundbreaking report shared some of the challenges facing Hispanic elders in the United States – including poverty, lack of access to services, economic security, and abuse – and shared recommendations for better serving these communities. The report drew upon feedback from three Regional Forums NHCOA conducted over the summer in Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
Advocating for Healthy Aging in Indian Country
During this year’s White House Conference on Aging, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) hosted a listening session in Norman, OK with White House organizers and tribal elders. Despite some treacherous weather, Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Cynthia LaCounte, Director of the Office of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Programs, listened to testimonials presented by Elders, Tribal leaders, and Tribal and State aging services program administrators. NICOA facilitated a tour of New Mexico Native aging sites, which highlighted the progress many tribes are making in service delivery for health, social services and economic wellbeing for Elders. In 2016, NICOA will serve as a recipient of a five-year grant to serve as the National Resource Center on AI/AN aging and they will host their National biennial conference on Aging in Niagara Falls, NY.
Finding Safe Shelter for our LGBT Elders
In July, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) announced a new national LGBT housing initiative, which seeks to provide LGBT-affirming senior housing in select cities, fair and welcoming treatment of LGBT older people, and expanded services that support LGBT older adults facing housing challenges. More good news for LGBT housing arrived at the White House Conference on Aging, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced policy which reaffirmed that their equal access guidelines to federally funded housing programs also apply to LGBT people. SAGE also celebrated the reintroduction of the LGBT Elder Americans Act into the Older Americans Act, which the DEC will be promoting and prioritizing in 2016.
Remembering the Past While Supporting the Future
Since 1975, over one million refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have been resettled in the United States, making Southeast Asian Americans the largest refugee community resettled in U.S. history. In 2015, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) commemorated the 40th anniversary of the SEAA refugee experience with a new blog, 40andForward, and several events around the country. Beautiful stories of our SEAA elders emerged from this celebration, including this piece from Mari Quenemoen about the mongoose and the bird of paradise. As the national discussion has turned to new refugee communities from Syria, SEARAC has remained a vigilant advocate for refugee communities and immigrants’ rights
Older Americans Act
Despite upheaval in Congress, the Diverse Elders Coalition has continued to promote and educate around issues of diverse elders and the Older Americans Act. We recently released a new statement and fact sheet about the impact that the OAA has on our communities and why it must be reauthorized by Congress immediately. This will be one of our primary focal points for advocacy and policy as we head into the 2016 election season. Click here to read more.
From our DEC family to yours, we send the warmest gratitude for a fabulous 2015, a very happy holiday season, and all the success and prosperity in 2016.