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WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 2, 2015) – On the eve of National Minority Health Month, which helps raise awareness for disparities in health and care among minorities in the U.S., a new resource is available to help one such group, older Chinese Americans, better understand and drive their own well-being. Developed by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) with support from AARP, “Chinese American Older Adults: A Guide to Managing Your Health” is a free resource that highlights the most common health concerns in the Chinese American older adult community and ways that they can talk to healthcare providers about addressing them proactively.
“Identifying health issues prevalent to the Chinese American community and informing and educating healthcare providers about them is critical to helping older people live healthier lives. We need to understand the unique needs of minority groups such as Chinese Americans to ensure their health concerns are being recognized and met,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Markets and Engagement, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience. “AARP provides and funds research and tools—like this guide—that help individuals, healthcare providers, and organizations reduce gaps in knowledge about underserved communities.”
As the guide explains, common health concerns for older Chinese Americans include hepatitis B infections, cancer (especially liver, head and neck), depression, tuberculosis (TB), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, genetic diseases (including thalassemia and glucose-6-dehydrogenase deficiency), and alcoholism. Many of these conditions require not only expert care but also sensitivity to cultural norms and considerations that can help or hinder well-being depending on how they are addressed.
“We know that people from different backgrounds can have different health risks,” said Nancy Lundebjerg, AGS CEO. “With AARP’s support, guides like this will help ensure that older Americans and their healthcare providers can engage in meaningful, actionable, and culturally sensitive conversations about healthcare needs, expectations, and decisions.”
Based on expert-authored guidance from clinicians who care for older Chinese Americans, the AGS guide offers simple, practical recommendations addressing cultural issues and opportunities head-on. These include suggestions for talking to healthcare providers about sensitive subjects like:
- Prescription medications. Bringing all medicines to wellness visits is an important way to discuss potential side effects or difficulties following directions, affording treatment, or simply filling prescriptions.
- Traditional medicines and remedies. These options can reflect important aspects of cultural identity, but they may interact poorly with certain pharmaceuticals and can be adjusted to suit personal preferences and needs.
- Empowering family members and friends to make healthcare decisions. This can be especially important when working to convey health wishes and expectations before a problem arises.
- Completing an advance directive, a legal document that helps to outline clear expectations for end-of-life care.
- Speaking with someone about fears of mistreatment or abuse—physically, financially, and emotionally.
About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its more than 6,200 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit americangeriatrics.org. The AGS’ Health in Aging Foundation develops and maintains the HealthinAging.org website, a special public resource aimed at providing older adults, their caregivers, family, and friends with reliable, up-to-date information on health and aging.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.