by Lupe Bruneman
The older population of the United States has experienced unprecedented growth in the past several decades. Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of this population. According to the Miami-Dade Matters organization, the 55-plus Hispanic population of Miami-Dade in 2022 is 842,280, a number that is projected to grow to well over 3 million over the next 25 years.
According to the US Administration on Aging (AoA), the Hispanic older population aged 65 and older is projected to be the largest racial/ethnic minority in this age group. The intent of this article is to bring to the forefront the aging phenomenon that is occurring now with the aging of the baby boomers and will also occur with the generations that follow.
Despite the express mandate of the Older Americans Act “…to give preference to those seniors in the greatest social and economic needs,” one of the biggest challenges for Latino seniors is gaining access to much-needed services and programs. Yet today, in 2022, this segment of our society is the most in need; two out of three Hispanic seniors retire near or under the federal poverty line.
The growing Hispanic population across the U.S. comprises an increasing number of seniors with a variety of special needs that are currently left unmet or insufficiently addressed. More specifically, most Hispanic seniors are in critical situations because they lack access to services that many of them don’t even know exist. The Latino Center on Aging (LCA) was established in 1991 to bridge that gap. Through its educational programs, training, technical assistance, advocacy efforts, and dissemination of information to both Spanish- and English-speaking media, the LCA has been helping seniors and providing them with a strong voice for the last three decades.
The LCA has a very unique mission: to improve the lives of Latino seniors through advocacy and education. Our challenge is to increase knowledge of the hardships faced by our elderly and to assist in creating new programs and services directed towards them.
For the past three decades, the LCA has been committed to identifying obstacles deterring the advancement of Latino communities, such as health disparities, lack of awareness of services, fewer opportunities, and cultural and language barriers. Through the generosity of its contributors, LCA has played an important part in enhancing the lives of tens of thousands of Latino seniors. More than ever, and as we see our Latino populations grow, we need your help and contributions to continue in these efforts. According to the U.S. Census, Latino senior populations will grow three-fold over the next 20 years. Together, we will reinforce our pledge to continue developing solutions that will empower our seniors and enhance their lives.
Part of LCA’s National Agenda is to ensure that US governments increase grants and financial opportunities to better serve the needs of the growing Latino aging population, and to enhance information, thus providing access to Hispanic seniors. For example, in South Florida, we would like to see more signs in Spanish (i.e. on public transportation) announcing the counties’ Spanish-language hotline for seniors.