CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – A new study shows how much the gap in health care affects elderly African Americans in South Carolina compared to other demographics.
AARP, along with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson and the University of South Carolina have all teamed up to diagnose, and fix the issues leading to health disparities among black communities.
“This is a complex issue,” AARP SC’s state director for advocacy Jo Pauling-Jones said. “It is one that is going to require multi agency collaboration which is one of the recommendations.”
The report states that African Americans in the state consistently have a higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s, dying from stroke or certain cancers. They also have higher rates for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
In his 40-year medical career, Dr. Thaddeus John Bell has been working to bring awareness to these persistent issues.
“I think the medical profession in general is now coming to grips of the unequal treatment that minorities and people of color and poor people have received,” Bell said.
Bell is now working with AARP on a new online video series called Living well with Dr. Bell. It aims to educate communities of color about ways to live healthier, longer lives.
“Teach people, spend time with people explaining to them why is important and what I’m asking you to do in order to live longer,” Bell said.
Heather Boger at MUSC’s Center for Aging said the newly-complied data on health issues facing the minority population will be used as a tool to help hospitals like hers reach out to, and prioritize, people most in need.
“To petition not only to MUSC but to the state to get resources available for seniors for African-American seniors that are at a greater risk for these disparities,” Boger said. “This is what we need to increase our efforts on, increase our education, our outreach, resource providing, etc.”
Researchers say the report is only the beginning, next steps include interviews with people most affected and eventually releasing a list of action steps for healthcare systems across the state.
“It speaks to our commitment to disrupt disparities and that is what we want to do we want people to live their best lives as they’re aging,” Jones said. “And we know that disrupting these disparities is the way to do that.”
People can read the full report online here.
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