Improving Health Care

Three Tips for Improving Health Care of
African American Older Adults

African American older adults may rely on varied resources to gain medical education and to take care of themselves. This includes traditional health care providers, but because of cultural and religious beliefs they may rely on less traditional providers or on input from clergy or other African American folk remedies (Fahie, 1998). Provision of health care to older African Americans must give consideration to culture and tradition, with the acknowledgement that social and kinship networks, community, extended family, and the church are all significant players in the health care and support service system.

The following are four tips for improving health care in the African American older adult community:

1. Increasing frequency of office or clinic visits can significantly impact prevention in this population and improve outcomes (Wright et al., 2000).

2. Identification of unique points of access to health care and supportive services will differ by community, but must be the focus of the contemporary health care provider who is serving African American older adults.

3. Community leaders, church older adults, and other “communicators”
should be incorporated in Advisory Boards and be involved in health care planning for the community.

It is only through cultural awareness and sensitivity that improved access to and
utilization of health care services, positive health behaviors and successful outcomes will be attained, not only for African American older adults, but for all racial and ethnic groups.