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AARP is Listening in Multicultural Communities

Older North Carolina African Americans would like to enjoy retirement, but this goal is increasingly uncertain because of health and economic worries.

A new AARP survey of the state’s African Americans age 50 or older reflects an older population with bright dreams of traveling and spending time on leisure pursuits in retirement. But concerns over staying healthy, receiving social Security when they need it, and having enough health insurance coverage cast a shadow over those dreams. Only around one quarter or fewer of those surveyed feel they have the resources they need to address a wide range of concerns.

This is something all generations of Americans need to work on together, and AARP can help.

The North Carolina results come from a massive survey effort. AARP conducted separate surveys in each of the 50 states and the three territories where it has offices, plus a national survey, to better gather information on the needs, interests and concerns of Americans 50+. More than 300 North Carolina African Americans were surveyed in January.

Among the North Carolina survey’s findings:

  • Over one in four respondents said vacation and travel are activities they most dream of doing. Another 15 percent listed hobbies and interests as their top dream, while seven percent dreamed most about finding a new or better job.
  • Nearly four in ten respondents said health care issues, including the cost of health care and staying healthy, is their top challenge. About one third listed economic issues as their top concern, including unemployment and having enough money to retire.
  • About one-fourth or fewer of respondents say they have the resources they need to meet a wide range of hopes and expectations: to stay healthy, receive Social Security when they need it, maintain adequate health insurance coverage and receive Medicare when needed, among others.

In addition to AARP’s statewide survey of African Americans, our North Carolina Director of Multicultural Outreach, Debra Tyler-Horton, has met with over 200 African Americans 50+ in Wake County alone to ask: “When you tell the story about your community what are you most proud of? What has been your contribution? When dreaming the future, there are many services and programs available to us as we age: What is missing for you in your community? “

In terms of challenges, she has heard a wide range of concerns, ranging from lack of transportation and affordable housing to a need for more financial literacy education, and from needs for senior day care and help with home modifications to a need for access to affordable fresh produce and dental insurance. Sources of pride have included efforts to keep communities clean, support from local police officers, affordable housing and facilities such as YWCAs and community centers.

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