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In many families, there comes a time when our parents are no longer be able to care for themselves independently and require assistance to handle their daily activities.
In several cultures, including Asian heritage, caring for aging parents is a rite of passage. For many individuals of Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander descent, respecting and caring for one's parents, also referred to as filial piety, is an important family value that extends across many cultures and generations.
During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, and also in recognition of Older Americans Month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health will highlight initiatives underway to help Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities achieve optimal health.
AANHPI populations represent a diverse group of communities and often suffer barriers to quality health care because of lack of access to affordable health coverage, as well as cultural and language differences – such as limited English proficiency, immigration status, and lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate health and social services. As a result, an estimated 18.1 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are uninsured, compared with 16.3 percent of all Americans.1 And health concerns such as higher rates of hepatitis B virus infection, stomach and liver cancers, and suicide in AAPI women over the age of 65 can have devastating effects on the families and caregivers of older AAPI Americans.
As our nation grows older and more diverse, issues of aging and the challenges associated with caring for aging parents become more pronounced in
AANHPI communities. The number of Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders over age 65 is expected to grow to 2.5 million by 2020 and 7.6 million by 2050,
from fewer than one million in 2000.2 And nearly three-quarters of the 17.3 million Asians in the United States were born abroad. One of the most
important strategies to address the needs of this growing population is providing care and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Raising awareness of and promoting the adoption and implementation of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care is a priority of the Office of Minority Health to improve the health of AANHPI populations and to support caregivers. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services are respectful of and responsive to the cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy levels, and communication needs of diverse individuals and communities. As public health and health care providers and organizations implement these principles they also help improve the quality of services and close the gap in health disparities which are prevalent in AANHPI communities.
We recognize that the children of aging parents who are called upon to serve as caregivers also need information and resources to help ease their parent’s transition into a new phase of life. When this day comes, it is important to understand how to step into the role of caregiver, as a family member or health care professional, to provide aging adults with the best care possible.
To help facilitate conversations at the point of care, the National Institute on Aging offers a booklet on effective health care provider-patient communication called Talking with Your Older Patient. This resource, which also offers a handbook on working with diverse older patients, offers practical tips to help clinicians achieve meaningful and effective communication with older patients.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) promotes well-being for older individuals by providing services and programs designed to help them live independently in their homes and communities. All older Americans and their family caregivers are eligible to receive services through the Older Americans Act (OAA) and Aging Network. The Administration on Aging within ACL gives specific attention to those individuals who are in the greatest economic and social need, including racial and ethnic minority seniors.
Our nation’s older AANHPI Americans have contributed much to this country. Let us do our best to ensure that they and their families have the resources they need to enrich their lives and our communities for years to come. As President Obama has said, "We must maximize the contributions of our seniors and ensure they have the resources and support they need to thrive and to keep shaping the future of the country they love."
For more information on efforts to expand opportunity for AANHPI communities, visit the White
House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. To learn more about the health of AANHPI communities, visit the
HHS Office of Minority Health website.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of
the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
2 www.nasuad.org reference
May is Lupus Awareness Month and on May 20th specifically, health advocates and those directly or indirectly impacted by the disease called lupus will Put On Purple to raise awareness and to support the millions of people who are affected by the disease. For far too long, many Americans have remained unaware that more than 1.5 million people, mostly women, are affected by lupus, and that it is the leading cause of kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease.
How many people know that women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasian women? Sadly, many in the communities most affected, and even those within the medical community, are far less educated about the signs and symptoms of lupus than other equally and less threatening medical conditions.
Lupus has been called "a mystery disease" by researchers and physicians. It is a chronic, autoimmune disease with no cure that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints and organs. It can even lead to death. It can take up to six years to diagnose if the medical provider is not familiar with its symptoms. There is no cure for lupus but there is hope! With early detection, managed care, reducing stress, and following a healthy diet and exercise plan, individuals with lupus, especially women, can strive for optimal health.
The Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE), along with other national and community-based organizations, is leading a campaign to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of lupus, to improve rates of early detection and early treatment so that patients with this condition have a better chance of living long, healthier lives.
The campaign targets women of color who are at an increased risk for lupus and focuses on educating public health professionals and primary care providers of the signs and symptoms of lupus as well. Individuals experiencing the following symptoms should discuss the possibility of lupus with their health care provider:
This May, DHPE and other partner organizations want to be sure that lupus doesn't take the back seat but rather gets just as much attention as other chronic medical conditions that disproportionately affect women and minority populations.
In the same way that we support awareness and the funding of research for other diseases that devastate families, we need many more community leaders, health care institutions, health educators and medical professionals to rally around this effort to raise funds and support lupus awareness activities. Secondly, there is a need for increased participation in clinical trials from within the African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian and Native American communities so that we can better understand this disease and more effectively diagnose and develop treatment plans.
Especially in minority communities, it is well known that women are usually the backbone and the glue that keep their families together. So, there is even more at stake if we don't bring lupus to the forefront of community health advocacy. We must all play our part to increase funding and education about lupus, early diagnosis and treatment, and participation in lupus research in support of the people we love.
DHPE calls on women of color and health practitioners to join us on Put on Purple Day on Friday, May 20th, to raise awareness about lupus and in particular how women of color are disproportionately impacted by this disease. Encourage your organization, friends and loved ones to wear purple, in unity with and support of, those living with lupus.
Grab your camera, phone, or tablet and share your own "This is Why I Put On Purple" story with a photo! Be sure to share your organization's Put on Purple participation on social media and use the hashtags: #dhpePOP and #dhpelupus. Whether you are living with lupus, caring for patients, researching a cure or know someone with the disease, it touches everyone. Join DHPE and the lupus community and learn the signs and symptoms of lupus today!
DHPE, a national public health association, was recently funded by the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, to implement a national lupus health education program. To learn more about lupus, visit www.lupus.org. For more information on the DHPE LEAP Program, visit www.bit.ly/dhpelupus or email LEAP Program Manager Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven Owens, MD, MPH, MA is director of Health Equity, Directors of Health Promotion and Education.
The work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health is rooted in a resounding call sounded more than thirty years ago to address the racial and ethnic health disparities that plague our nation. It was then, in Health, United States 1983 (the annual report card on the nation’s health) that then HHS Secretary Margaret M. Heckler took note of significant disparities that existed between non-Hispanic whites and racial and ethnic minorities despite evidence that showed improvements in the health and longevity of all Americans.
Fueled by this report, in 1984 Secretary Heckler established a task force that within a year developed the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health (also known as the Heckler Report). Released in 1985, by Secretary Heckler, the report provided a detailed analysis of the major factors that contribute to illness and death among racial and ethnic minority populations and signaled a turning point in understanding the extent to which these groups experienced health disparities. The report also led to the creation of the HHS Office of Minority Health to improve minority health and help eliminate these disparities.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) continues to prepare the Health, United States report, a consolidation of the most current data on health status and determinants, health care utilization, health care resources, and health care expenditures from federal agency and private entity sources. HHS recently released Health, United States, 2015, which dedicates a portion of its report to trends in health disparities in a Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, in commemoration of the recent 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report.
Some of the highlights from the Special Feature include:
These findings are encouraging as they mark important improvements in some health measures for racial and ethnic minority populations and reflect our collective efforts to improve minority health and build a healthier, more equitable nation. However, significant disparities still exist, and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to end health disparities in America. It is my hope that this report will help reinforce our shared commitment to achieve a nation free of disparities in health and health care.
To view the Health, United States, 2015 report and the Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus/index.htm.
J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Get the Facts. Take Precautions. Manage Stress. Be Well.
If you’re pregnant or you’re thinking about starting a family, then you probably know that stress during pregnancy is normal, but that too much stress is not healthy for your pregnancy. The emergence of Zika virus can be an additional unsettling consideration for those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Zika is serious and it can hurt your baby. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly as well as other severe brain defects. Right now, Zika is not being spread by mosquitoes in the United States, though local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus has been reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
Take steps to get the facts about the disease, and how to prevent infection. Managing stress is important for promoting healthier pregnancies, healthier births, and better long-term health outcomes for families.
Here are 6 things that you can do to protect your health and your baby’s health:
If you know someone who is pregnant and worried about Zika, help them learn how they can best protect themselves against possible infection. Help them get the facts – you can start by sharing this blog.
Taking precautions to protect your pregnancy from Zika and managing stress are important ways to help promote a healthier pregnancy, healthier birth, and a better outcome for your family.
Mili K. Patel, JD, MPH is the Public Health Analyst, Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience (ABC), Office of Policy and Planning (OPP), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and Shulamit M. Schweitzer, MHS, is the Senior Management Analyst, GAP Solutions Inc. contractor supporting the Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience (ABC), Office of Policy and Planning (OPP), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
Growing up: We all have to do it. Jury duty, income taxes, oil changes, retirement savings — there's a lot to being an adult that no one warns you about. But at some point, you realize that you're in control of your life. You have the skills and smarts to tackle anything that comes your way. All you have to do is take charge.
When it comes to your health, the choices you make in your 20s and 30s can affect your health for the rest of your life. So ask yourself: Do you get your annual well-woman visit? Or see your doctor or nurse before that nagging ache becomes full-blown pain? Are you honest with yourself about your eating habits? Are you getting enough sleep? If you need an excuse to get started, here it is: National Women's Health Week (NWHW) is happening right now — so it's the perfect time to pledge to take charge of your health!
That might sound intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some simple ways to get started:
This National Women's Health Week, grow up with the best of them. Set goals, make a plan to reach them, and take charge!
Dr. Nancy C. Lee is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Women's Health and Director at the Office on Women's Health