By Bianca Perez
National Hispanic Council on Aging 

Needs of elder Hispanics highlighted


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles Senior Voice will publish in coming months on various topics from the Diverse Elders Coalition. Each article will cover a different segment of the elder population.

Despite their resilient nature, Hispanic older adults continue to face a plethora of challenges, which include retirement insecurity, lack of access to health care, housing and programs, as well as hunger and chronic disease. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) — the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers — presented these facts through their report, “Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Insights from the Field,” released on Sept. 28, 2016 at a briefing on Capitol Hill. The organization also found, through their report, older adults’ eagerness to be civically engaged and to share insightful and concrete recommendations to address the challenges they face.

Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of NHCOA, highlighted the depth of the findings during her speech at the briefing.

“Our seniors are struggling just to stay economically afloat and to maintain their health,” Cruz said. “They shared with us that many are facing hunger or are on the verge of homelessness, that their low fixed salaries don’t cover basic expenses, that housing costs are too high and that the housing is in poor shape and not appropriate for seniors.”

The report is a data and testimonial-driven status report with policy recommendations that captures the hardships and challenges shared by seniors during NHCOA’s open forums held in multiple parts of the country, and compiled from a nationwide survey taken by over 900 seniors and a literature review.

“The NHCOA report highlights the need to continue our commitment to addressing the diverse needs of Hispanic populations and ensuring they have access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services to age in a healthy way,” said J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, deputy assistant secretary for minority health and director of the HHS Office of Minority Health.

NHCOA Board Member and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging Cindy Padilla moderated a panel of experts and community leaders — Octavio Martinez, MD, NHCOA Board Chair and Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health; Bob Blancato, President of Matz, Blancato & Associates; Adjoa Adofo, Director of Communications, Better Medicare Alliance; and Yvette Peña, Vice President of Multicultural Leadership Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy, AARP — who provided context to the report’s findings through national statistics and testimonials.

In addition to the data and testimonials from seniors in different parts of the country, the report details several policy recommendations, including preserving and expanding programs that address retirement security, access to health, housing, and abuse protection among the U.S. aging population, and ensuring that programs and benefits address the cultural and linguistic needs of the growing Hispanic aging population.

“At each of our community forums, Hispanic older adults and other participants understood the complexity of the challenges they were facing,” explained Dr. Cruz. “They had insightful recommendations to address these challenges, ranging from local, state and national advocacy, to researching candidate platforms in preparation to vote.”

“This is a matter of health equity for all older Americans. I know that you will make a difference, and this is why we need to come together to support organizations like the National Hispanic Council on Aging to make sure that we really put our older Americans in truly their golden years,” Commented Congressman Raul Ruiz of California.

To view or download a copy of the “Status of Older Hispanic Adults” report, visit

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) is a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition. Founded in 2010, the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) exists to address the profound challenges facing older people of color and LGBT elders. For more information, visit

Bianca Perez is a Media and Communications Associate for the National Hispanic Council on Aging.


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