|UND National Aging Center will continue to assist Native American elders|
You worry about how to get to the doctor’s office and how long you will wait after you arrive. Worst of all, your doctor tells you, based on your health, that he or she considers you ten years older than you really are.
This is a discouraging prospect for anyone at any age; for North Dakota Native elders, this is reality. Native elders, those aged 55 years and older, are more susceptible to a number of chronic diseases and incur more barriers to receive health care, according to Twyla Baker-Demaray, director of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging and research analyst at the Center for Rural Health at UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“Our mission is to identify and increase awareness of evolving Native elder health and social issues through research, education and advocacy. The success of the Center is based on recognition of community expertise in the provision of resources to develop community-based solutions,” said Baker-Demaray.
Recently, the Administration on Aging within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave UND’s Resource Center over $422,000 to continue its work for another three years.
The National Resource Center on Native American Aging was established in 1994 at the Center for Rural Health through a cooperative agreement with the Administration on Aging. The Resource Center’s purpose is to work closely with local service providers throughout the nation to address the needs of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian elders. The National Resource Center on Native American Aging was the first center established of the three centers that exist. The other centers—University of Alaska–Anchorage and the University of Hawaii—each work with their unique state Native populations.
The National Resource Center focuses on community-based health care solutions to strengthen the foundation of every Native tribe, village and homestead. Center staff created a nationally recognized needs assessment process that has assisted more than 330 of the 562 federally recognized tribes.
Baker-Demaray said the NRCNAA will initiate a program to nationally recruit and train Native researchers on aging. In addition, she plans to develop resources to assist both informal caregivers of Native elders and Native elders who, increasingly, are caregivers for children.
“Many tribes also struggle with the problem of elder abuse. We hope to focus on effective ways to intervene and prevent this abuse,” said Demaray. “Our Native elders should be treasured.”
-- Denis MacLeod, Communications Specialist, Center for Rural Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3300