We are ending Black History Month and what no better way to say ‘until next year’ is to highlight eldercare issues in the black community? I like to start by saying that… a family that prays together stays together; with a few hiccups, here and there. The foundation of the family is its elders. They share wisdom and guidance based on their lived experiences and struggles. Being old comes with its own set of trials and hardships. So when it is time to care for them, black families must come together to ensure their wonder years are the best they can be.
Who is best designed to help navigate our loved ones’ golden years than family? Our black elders were defenders of change during the Civil Rights Movement, and despite history past, persistent inequality is still front and center. If you ever sit down with your elders, you can hear about their struggles. It should prompt each of us to stand to keep them safe and protected until the end. What are some community problems facing black elders today? This should be no real surprise that outside cultural biases, community poverty, and health disparities still exist. Family can play a role in these areas using their gifts and talents. None is too big or too small to demonstrate care and concern for our aging elders. What are some concerns in the Black community that impacts our elderly loved ones? Who in the family can advocate for them?
Let us Consider a few Thoughts!
Let’s consider outside cultural biases toward the elderly in black communities. Ageism is a real thing! The stereotype of old people have no value and should be silent is preposterous. Who Will Speak Up?
What about healthcare and affordability? We know that discrimination and bias about race exist. Standing up for the rights of our elderly loved ones is the responsibility of the family first. Who Will Speak Up?
What about the environmental concerns of the elderly living in run-down communities? Sidewalks, streets, countless convenient stores, and food deserts require advocacy. Inside the home, stairs, bathtubs, basements, physical obstacles, and clutter. Who Will Speak Up?
Physical accidents are huge issues when our elderly are living alone. I know it is difficult when they want to stay in their own residence. Alert buttons are nice. The cameras in the home are nice, but now statistics are real that the elderly end up in emergency rooms from falls, and some end in loss of life. Who will fall-proof the home or have the discussion of time to move in with family? Who Will Speak Up?
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, let me ask… Who Will Speak Up? Taking care of our elders and the community in which they live is an expectation we all should embrace. Coming together to meet the needs of the elders in the Black family is what we should all desire to do.
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager; CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers. Website: www.cynthiajhickman.com