by Rodney A. Brooks
“After a lifetime of racial and health inequities, Black seniors are at risk of spending their last years with declining health, little income and virtually no savings.
“Numerous studies have noted that Black Americans have worse health than their white counterparts, including chronic diseases and disabilities leading to shorter and sicker lives than white Americans. A recent 2016 CIGNA Health Disparities report found:
- Four in 10 Black men aged 20 or older have high blood pressure, a rate 30 percent higher than that of white men. Black men’s risk of a stroke is twice that of white men. For Black women, 45 percent of those aged 20 and older have high blood pressure, a rate 60 percent higher than white women.
- Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
- Black men have a 40 percent higher cancer death rate than white men.
- Black Americans are 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than whites, and nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized.
- Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to suffer from Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.
“Black women, said Tyson Brown, associate professor of sociology at Duke University, suffer from some of the highest levels of diabetes, hypertension, and other disabilities. Their health problems limit their ability to continue working. But many Black women have to continue working because of declining income as they age.
“’And so, it’s sort of a Catch-22,’ said Brown. ‘They’re often sort of put in a bind there.’”