Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance (SageSistahs) “publicly” launched in Sacramento, CA in 2014. Since we began, we have primarily focused on the woman in the middle because that’s where the greatest need appeared to be from our perspective. The woman in the middle is middle-aged, middle-income and in the middle of care giving for parents, young-adult children and sometimes grandchildren.
This middle woman has little time or ability to focus on her own health, financial, emotional, or social needs because of her role oftentimes as primary bread winner and primary caregiver.
Additionally, because she is earning a middle income salary, she does not qualify for most forms of government assistance, but her income is not high enough to pay out-of-pocket for many of the services she and her family needs.
A new study by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) takes an in-depth analysis of middle income older Americans and the hardships facing this population. The article, The Forgotten Middle, by Steve Moran summarizes the NIC study that shows Many Middle-Income Seniors Will Have Insufficient Resources For Housing And Health Care,” The NIC study focused on housing availability and options for middle-income seniors as well as health care and care services for seniors 75 years and over in 2029.
“The Forgotten Middle: Many Middle-Income Seniors Will Have Insufficient Resources For Housing And Health Care”
The report states that…
“Middle-income seniors in 2029 will also differ demographically from today’s seniors. The growth in the number of women will outpace that of men, with women constituting 58.3 percent of middle-income seniors in 2029 compared to 56.0 percent in 2014. Future middle-income seniors will also be more racially diverse than today’s seniors, with increases in the shares of Hispanics (from 2.4 percent to 6.3 percent) and blacks (from 5.0 percent to 6.7 percent). Lower growth rates for whites will result in their share shrinking from 90.9 percent to 83.8 percent. Finally, this population will also become more educated in the next decade, as the number of people who did not graduate from high school will decline and those with a four-year college degree and above will increase by 59.6 percent. This change directly contributes to a rightward shift in the forecasted income distribution of future seniors because higher education levels result in fewer seniors living in poverty.”
Fewer seniors living in poverty is good news for Boomers as well as all future Older Americans and Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance hopes this will also be true for African American women. Currently in the State of California, “Women of color disproportionately feel the effects of poverty and over a longer period. Black women have the highest rate of poverty for those 65 years of age and above (21 percent), followed by Hispanic women,” according to a 2016 report ,”Aging Women and poverty in California” produced by the California Commission on Aging and the California Commission on the Status of Women.
To read the full report, go to: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05233
Some of the key findings from the study are:
- Currently there are 750,000 million seniors who don’t qualify for public assistance and often end up spending all their finances on out-of-pocket services and eventually end up broke and on Medicaid.
- Future senior will have less saving and are less likely to have significant pension plan assets.
- The number of middle-income seniors is expected to double from 7.9 million to 14.4 million.
- Middle-income seniors will constitute 40-43 percent of seniors overall.
In summary, Boomers and future Older Americans have more education and higher incomes and have longer lifespans than in the past which is good news. However, incomes have not kept up with costs of housing, health care and pharmaceuticals and care giving services.
The study recommends that new public policies and programs be developed to address the needs of this growing segment of the senior population. Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance concurs and will lend our support and advocacy to advance policies that aid older African American women living life in the middle.