ICYMI: 2012 NHCOA National Summit Underscores The Plight Of Older Americans and Highlights Importance of Leadership and Civic Engagement

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Community leaders and Hispanic seniors engaged with policy makers & experts in solutions-oriented discussions on health, housing, and economic security as well as discussed the importance of being civically engaged on November 6 and beyond.

“All of us must work together to ensure the quality of life, dignity, peace of mind, and respect for those who have cared for us - our elders, families and caregivers.” Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President & CEO

The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)- the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers- recently hosted its 2012 National Summit at the National Press Club. The purpose of the NHCOA 2012 National Summit was to underscore the issues impacting Latino seniors across the country, call for leadership in aging-related programs and policies, and foster a multilateral and intergenerational dialogue aimed at ensuring these programs and policies were reflective of Hispanic older adults’ needs and concerns.

Economic security, housing, and health were all trending topics during the 2012 National Summit, particularly federal seniors programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO, presented anecdotes and data from a new NHCOA brief, “State of Hispanic Older Adults: An Analysis and Highlights from the Field.” The brief is the result of a multi-city listening tour NHCOA conducted in key regions of the country to take the pulse of the issues impacting Hispanic older adults. She also underscored the importance of civic engagement and heading to the polls on November 6.

"There are two critical ways I know, we as Latinos, can instantly make an impact on our future," said Dr. Cruz. "The first is to realize our potential as a voting bloc. Get everyone you know to the polls on November 6. The second is to prepare our youth to take their rightful place as leaders in our society – as captains of business and philanthropy, and heads of government."

During the keynote address, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressed how the Administration was working to help seniors age with health and security, particularly by ensuring they have access to the services and support to continue living in their homes and communities. She also talked about by strengthening Medicare and the importance of empowering seniors to help fight Medicare fraud through efforts such as the National Hispanic SMP.

Veteran journalist Armando Guzman, TV Azteca & Azteca America Washington Bureau Chief, led plenary sessions with several experts in the areas of economic security, housing, health, and civic engagement, which included Nancy J. Altman, JD, Social Security Works; Dr. Jacob Lozada, AARP; Michael Marcus, The Weinberg Foundation; Cecilia Pozo Fileti, MS, RD, Latino Health Communications; Tony Sarmiento, Senior Service America, Inc.; Bob Blancato, Matz, Blancato, & Associates; Maria Cardona, Dewey Square Group; Israel Ortega, Heritage Foundation; Juan Sepúlveda, Democratic National Committee; and Arturo Vargas, NALEO.

Participants, which represented a mix of professionals, advocates, federal officials, policy makers, service providers, Latino seniors, and community leaders said they felt energized and excited about being part of a growing effort to improve the lives of older Americans.

“Since returning from the [S]ummit, I have been far more vocal about the needs of our older adults. I want to be able to work with NHCOA both locally and nationally,” said a professional from Miami.

The first two days of the National Summit convened more than 70 local and out-of-state grassroots leaders at NHCOA’s Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training to provide them with the tools to empower and mobilize Hispanic older adults, their families, and communities as well as identify challenges and opportunities to better serve this important population.

For more information, visit http://www.nhcoa.org.

The 2012 NHCOA National Summit was possible thanks to the sponsorship of AARP, Abbott, Amerigroup, AstraZeneca Lilly, Univision, Verizon, and Walmart.

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