One aspect of the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) mission is to assist American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Elders to live with dignity and self-determination, while participating fully in their communities. The Administration on Aging, which is part of ACL, implements this mission through its Older Americans Act programs and relationships with other federal agencies and their services. The Administration helps assure successful outcomes in part by recognizing the strengths and resiliency of American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Elders and respecting Native communities’ sovereignty, culture, and self-determination.
There is a new Native American issue briefing available that delves into the history and associated issues in this area. The briefing is designed to: 1) assist the Aging Network, which includes many organizations serving American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian Elders; and 2) share information about some of the innovative programs that promote health and support community living for Elders. The issue brief begins by presenting some broad commonalities in cultural traditions and historical experience among American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians, and then documents disparities in health and disability. Next, are descriptions of innovative approaches that Native communities have used to address identified disparities. The brief continues with examples of how Native communities have creatively used the Older Americans Act and other federal programs that aim to promote health and support community living for their Elders. The conclusion highlights common aspects of successful programs for Native people, including embedding the programs within their local context and culture.