Black Health, Wellness, and Aging

Dave Beal
January 31, 2022 / 3 mins read

Black Health, Wellness, and Aging

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) writes that the Black Health and Wellness theme for Black History Month, February 2022, "acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."

Find ASALH's collection of books, websites, and other historical materials and guides on black health and wellness here.

The Diverse Elders Coalition reports:

"According to the Administration on Aging, the Black or African American older population was 3.2 million in 2008 and is projected to grow to over 9.9 million by 2050. In 2008, African Americans made up 8.3% of the older population. By 2050, the percentage of the older population that is African American is projected to account for 11% of the older population.

While African American older adults make up 9% of the elder population, they represent 21% of the elder population living below the federal poverty level. According to the Administration on Aging (AoA), the poverty rate for black elders living in the U.S. is more than twice the rate for all elders.

Research shows that most black elders have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. The most frequently occurring conditions among black elders include hypertension, diagnosed arthritis, diabetes and cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while Black Americans only account for 14% of the U.S. population, they make up 44% of all new HIV infections as well as 44% of all people living with HIV. Additionally, 17% of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. occur in those 50 and older.

Affordable housing is a problem for many elders in areas across the country, yet for black elders this problem is magnified since the majority of black elders live in states with high cost of living, such as New York (9.1%), Florida (7.1%), California (6.5%), and Texas (6.4%). The problem is exacerbated for black elders due to poverty levels (as outlined above), prejudice and discrimination."

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