America is aging. Within the next 20 years, an estimated 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 will enter their senior years. In California, the elderly population will double to more than 9 million by 2035 and Latinos will comprise the largest group of older adults by mid-century. The Health Disparities Program's expertise on elder health fills an acute and growing need for research and analysis of the myriad health challenges that face the Baby Boomer generation, California’s diverse elders, and the elderly in general.
These trends create both challenges and opportunities for government, providers, and families. They also raise questions about how to promote healthy aging, manage chronic diseases, and create aging-friendly communities. The Center's Health Disparities Program assists policymakers, health care providers, planners and advocates, as well as the media, to understand these issues.
The Program's expertise includes:
- Health insurance coverage and access for the elderly
- Analysis of Federal Poverty Guidelines and elder economic security
- Long-term services and supports for disabled elders
- Falls, disability and food insecurity among the elderly
- Racial, economic, geographic and linguistic elder health disparities
- Immigrant elder health
- Access to care
- Managed care and the elderly
- Omnibus health data reporting on a wide range of elder health issues
Using data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey, our researchers provide wide-ranging statistics and analysis essential to policy debates through policy briefs, fact sheets and omnibus reports. This data helps experts to understand regional trends and to spotlight growing health crises, such as the looming demand for long-term services and supports, especially among disabled older adults.
The Program pioneered new approaches to elder economic security through its Elder Economic Security Standard Index for California, a tool that measures the actual cost of basic necessities for older adults in each of California's 58 counties. The Elder Index was created in response to the widely-viewed inappropriateness of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines to take into account the cost of living in high-cost states. The California legislature has since passed legislation to make The Elder Index a new standard of measurement in gauging poverty among California's senior citizens and the Index is being looked at nationally as a potential tool in the reform of the FPL.
Other research includes an investigation of falls, disability and food insecurity among the elderly, health insurance coverage and access to care among Latino elders, diabetes care as well as the role and effectiveness of managed care for California's elderly.