Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 10, 2005–U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona will be the keynote speaker at the first ever “Hispanic Elderly Policy Symposium” May 11, which will examine the growing national crisis of grandparents forgoing their retirement to raise their grandchildren.
“Latinos have the blessing of strong family ties throughout the generations. My abuelita was the heart and soul of our family while I was growing up and I still hear her words of wisdom in my mind all the time. A healthy family is a happy family so we want to give good health information to grandparents, parents, and children to ensure longer, healthier, happier lives,” said U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS.
The event, sponsored by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 11 at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Public Affairs Center, 1330 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20005. Sign-up for the event at nhcoa.org.
The symposium is designed to provide input to the policy committee of the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and will be submitted to Congressional policy makers and leaders nationwide. It will bring together today’s top thinkers to raise awareness among national leaders, policymakers and community leaders to identify strategies and solutions on the critical issues affecting the Latino elderly and their families – and create an informational exchange for professionals, policymakers, researchers and educators to establish a national Hispanic elderly policy agenda. A report on the event will be presented to policymakers at the White House Conference on Aging in October, which takes place every 10 years.
More than 2.4 million grandparents, many of them Hispanics, have to sidestep their retirements to raise their grandchildren – a national crisis that has grown 30 percent in the last decade. Hispanics are the fastest growing group of children living in homes headed by grandparents. NHCOA, a Washington-based nonprofit group that seeks to improve the quality of life for Latino elderly, families and communities, will examine three issues: the rise of grandparents raising grandchildren, income security and health.
“We should teach these self-sacrificing grandparents about protective factors that will keep them healthy and encourage them to be physically active,” said Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of NHCOA.
Of children being raised by their grandparents, 13.2% are African Americans and 7.8% are Hispanic, according to AARP, a symposium sponsor. In doing the right thing for their families, those grandparents face unexpected costs and barriers they are ill-prepared for in their supposed golden years.
“Grandparents are overwhelmed trying to deal with the legal, financial and support issues involved in raising a second family they hadn’t planned for,” Cruz said. “We want to establish effective programs to support the growing Hispanic population and other grandparents in the U.S.”
NHCOA is an umbrella organization representing 20 community-based organizations and chapters in the U.S., reaching 2 million Hispanic elderly. NHCOA also operates two elderly housing facilities.
“Our society needs to educate Latino elderly on financial matters so they can have the tools they need to raise a second family and not jeopardize their own economic well-being,” Cruz said. “NHCOA’s community-based programs already help some older Americans become computer literate. With more private and public funding, NHCOA could help many more elderly Hispanics become tech savvy so they could go online to find the support programs and services they need to raise their grandchildren.”
A focus of the symposium will be that to raise healthy grandchildren, the elderly need to be healthy themselves.
The event is co-sponsored in part by AARP, DHHS Office of Minority Health, Verizon, Merck, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kaiser Family Foundation and The George Washington University, Department of Global Health.
Other speakers include Dorcas Hardy, White House Conference on Aging; Anna Escobedo Cabral, U.S. treasurer; James B. Lockhart, III, deputy commissioner, Social Security Administration; Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-CA); and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
“This is an opportunity to provide the Latino perspective in this agenda and plan for the next decade,” Solis said. According to the U.S. Census, the Latino elderly population will quadruple, from 4% of the total elderly population in 1990 to 16% by 2050.
Based in Washington, NHCOA is an advocate organization with the primary purpose of improving the quality of life for Latino elderly, families and communities. Since its inception in 1979, NHCOA has focused on the importance and functions of the family to assist the elderly in every aspect of living and to provide needed care in old age.
Castaneda Global Communications