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Metro Brief: Health care, financial security top African American seniors concerns

District of Columbia

On June 16, 2014
Senior African American man on a laptop

The report showed that seniors in the area were
also concerned about the digital divide.

An AARP survey released last week shows that health care, education, financial security and the digital divide are among the most important social issues for African Americans aged 50 and older. 

The national survey, which included phone interviews with 650 respondents, demonstrates that while many older African Americans are optimistic that the country is moving in the right direction when it comes to issues such as health care, education and the digital divide, they are significantly less optimistic about finances, employment and workforce discrimination. Lower levels of optimism related to finances and employment could directly impact their future retirement security. 

“In light of rapid population growth among multicultural communities, studies such as our African-American Social Issues Survey allow AARP to address the unique resource and service needs that have resulted from the demographic shift,” Edna Kane-Williams, AARP Vice President, Multicultural Markets and Engagement. “We realize that decisions like knowing when to claim retirement benefits, making health care choices, seeking employment and financial planning can be complex and different for everyone. AARP is working to provide all people with enough information to make the right choices for themselves and their families.”

Among the survey’s findings:

  • While the majority of African Americans 50+ considered all of the social issues AARP asked about as being important, access to quality health care (91%), financial security (91%) and health care information (89%) were seen as most important.
  • When respondents noted more than one issue as extremely or very important, they were asked which of the issues was the single most important one. Access to high-quality health care was overwhelmingly viewed to be the single most important social issue-by one third (32 percent) of those who gave multiple responses.
  • Having a financially secure retirement was considered the second most important issue (cited by 16 percent of those with multiple answers), while access to high quality education was the third most important issue (cited by 14 percent of those with multiple answers).
  • Optimism is lowest for employment-related issues, with employment discrimination based on age (44 percent) and race (45 percent), access to better employment opportunities (48 percent) and having a financially secure retirement (a by-product of employment) garnering lower optimism levels relative to health, technology and education-related issues.

Complete survey results can be viewed here. AARP currently offers extensive resources, including free webinars on Social Security and retirement planning, employment search and networking through Life Reimagined for Work, health care information through the AARP Health online portal and technology training at AARP TEK. For more information on AARP tools and resources, visit

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