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Profile of Older African Americans 65 Plus

Older African Americans are living longer, following the growth trend of older Americans in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 the older African American population was 3.3 million and made up the majority of minority elders 65+. By 2050 the older African American population is projected to account for 11 percent of the American older population.

Although they are living longer, most older African Americans 65+ have at least one chronic health condition and many have multiple conditions. Among the most frequently occurring conditions among older African Americans in 2005 -2007 were: hypertension (84%), diagnosed arthritis (53%), all types of heart disease (27%), sinusitis (15%), diabetes (29%), and cancer (13%). The comparable figures for all older persons were: hypertension (71%), diagnosed arthritis (49%), all types of heart disease (31%), sinusitis (14%), diabetes (18%), and cancer (22%).

To reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minority elders, AoA funds health promotion projects administered by National Minority Aging Organization (NMAO) Technical Assistance Centers. One of these Centers is the National Caucus and Center for the Black Aged, Inc. (NCBA). NCBA’s Project SURGE, “Seniors Unite with Resources to Get Empowered: A Community Health Action and Advocacy Training Program”, recruits and trains volunteers to help older African Americans adopt healthier lifestyles. Using a community based approach through a network of senior housing communities, churches, and senior centers, pilot projects are being conducted in three cities across the nation: Baltimore, MD, Buffalo, NY and Oklahoma City, OK.

AoA also funds Health, Prevention and Wellness Programs that offer seniors tools to maintain their health. The core health and wellness programs are the Evidence-Based Disease and Disability Prevention Program and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. In these programs, seniors learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle through increased self-efficacy and self-management behaviors.

For more information on the NMAO Technical Assistance Program, visit the NMAO Technical Assistance Program page. For more information on AoA’s Health, Prevention and Wellness Programs, visit the Health, Prevention and Wellness Programs page.

To learn more about older African Americans, visit the minority aging section on