Infusing Cross-Cultural Aging Education Into Allied Health Curriculum
Minority populations are projected to represent 25.4% of the elderly population in 2030, up from 16.4% in 2000. Between 1999 and 2030, the white population 65+ is projected to increase by 81% compared with 219% for older minorities. (Administration on Aging, A Profile of Older Americans: 2001)
Allied health professionals will increasingly find that older minority patients comprise a large portion of their practice.
African American patients receive a lower quality of care than white patients (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AHRQ, Focus on Research, Disparities in Health Care). Lack of minority representation in the workforce can lead to care providers not equipped to care for diverse client populations or to understand sociocultural variations in health beliefs and behaviors. These barriers can be minimized through diversity in recruitment and training of allied health professionals.
Allied Health curriculum tends to leave little time for additional elective courses. Allied Health faculty may also have limited awareness of the impact of cross-cultural factors on health care for the aged and the presence of health disparities. In order to reach the largest number of allied health professionals, we believe that influencing college and university faculty to incorporate cross-cultural aging content into their curriculum is the best way to address this problem.