Discussion: African-American Elders Growing In Numbers, But Who Will Tend To Them?

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African-Americans are living longer, and the number of individuals age 65 and older will triple by 2050. This population boom has deep implications for long-term medical care and the needs for aging elders. The demand for caregivers is also expected to swell.

Despite the availability of nursing and assisted living facilities, historically, African-Americans have not been quick to rely on them. Some say that is changing.

“Caregiving remains an essential part of the African-American family, but as our families have become more transit and dislocated from each other, so has our need for nursing and assisted living facilities,” says Karyne Jones, president of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged. “However, the problems lie with affordability and access.”

The NCBA is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that addresses the needs of elderly African-Americans in the areas of affordable housing, health and wellness, and employment.

“At one time, more often black women were the obvious caregivers for senior parents and relatives,” Jones continues, “Now, with the majority of African-American women completing higher education and being employed, there has been a cultural shift in the role of automatic caregivers in the family — and we see an increased need for facilities and home-health assistance more than before.”

According to the Census Bureau, there were 3.2 million African-American elders 65 and older in 2008. By 2050, that number will total 9.9 million. According to the Administration on Aging, however, the number of family members who can act as caregivers will not grow by the same bounds. That is a huge issue for families where caregiving is, or will be. the only option.

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article courtesy of TheGrio.com

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