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Eliminating Health Disparities among Elderly African Americans BY: Dr. Greta Winbush
the Bible has served as my guide in accomplishing this effort.
There was recently good news that the population is living until the age of 90, 30 years short of the 120- year maximum life span. Yes, there are African Americans who live to age 90 years, and we too are experiencing the growth in life expectancy.
However, while many are living
longer, many are sicker and dealing with multiple chronic health condi- tions in their later years at numbers far greater than their non-African American counterparts.
As an educator, researcher, care-
giver, aging activist, and increasingly aging woman, I’ve accepted my call in life — to be a voice in the wilder- ness crying out on behalf of the injus- tices faced by many African American elderly. These injustices include in particular, their disparate health out- comes, their disparate health literacy, and their disparate health service use. I’ve been shown the unfavorable state of health and health care experiences of many older African Americans and now proclaim a state of emergency and duty to eliminate this health disparity and solicit the help of others in creating an agenda to fulfill this charge. The book of Nehemiah in
As an academic researcher, data
is often required to support such a claim, and it must be documented by many sources. I accept this disparate health status of African American seniors because so many of them talk about their diabetes, their hyperten- sion, and other chronic illnesses they tackle in their daily lives. Some are even experiencing multiple chronic health conditions in their later years.
Creating a health disparity elimination agenda for African American elderly in Ohio
We must create a plan of action and be systematic in its development and implementation. Creating a health disparity elimination agenda will involve key strategic steps, such as research, building and engaging di- verse communities, bringing together sufficient resources, and identifying creative and best practice solutions. We must insist on participation
and partnerships among our families, neighborhoods, churches, academic institutions, businesses, and levels of government in creating and success- fully implementing this health dispar- ity agenda.
Partnerships are already occur- ring in African American neighbor- hoods such as mine where there are intergenerational walking teams, neighbors monitoring and caring for disabled elderly neighbors, and healthy lifestyle promotion and prevention activities. Central State University, Ohio’s public Historically Black College and University, has its Center for Allaying Health Dispari- ties through Research and Education (CADRE) which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. As its Project Director and a key researcher, I oversee one of its major goals of a Minority Eldercare Initiative. Current activities of this Initiative include a research partnership between Central State, The Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, and the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami Uni- versity specifically looking at how health technology can improve the elder patient-doctor relationship and health literacy among African Ameri- can older adults. The study involves older African Americans in Colum- bus and in communities surrounding Central State University.
Change is Central!
Central State University is now mobile!
14 CENTRAL STATE UNIVERSITY
Ohio has shown leadership in stamping out injustices, so why not this one? Until then, this voice in the wilderness will keep speaking loudly on behalf of African American elderly—commanding us to not just close the elderly health disparity gap but to eliminate it!
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