The fun and festivities of Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 came to a close on October 15; however, the needs and concerns of Hispanics must remain in the forefront throughout the year. Underscoring the importance of this point are the views of 67 opinion leaders, 50 and older, representing notable Hispanic organizations. They took time to speak with AARP during Hispanic Heritage Month, in response to our Hispanic Opinion Shaper Survey.
These opinion leaders represent a broad spectrum of the Latino community, from language preference to geography to cultural background. They identified education, the economy and employment as the most urgent issues facing the country, followed closely by healthcare, prescription drug costs and immigration reform.
When pressed to identify the most important issue facing the country, education emerged as the number one concern because it affects all other priority issues. “Education is the top issue because a better educated society will compete better,” one leader stated.
The Latino leaders we surveyed are living very non-retired, non-leisured lives. They’re still fully employed, fully engaged in family responsibilities, and view affordable health care and financial stability as necessary not optional.
These leaders also spend a great deal of time with their families, and encourage them to establish a firm foundation for successful health and financial security – today and in the future. Family, for Latinos, is an extended network of children, grandchildren and other relatives, spanning multiple generations. So, making decisions about important issues like health care and retirement are not simply the responsibility of the family member facing those issues, but also the rest of the family.
The 50+ Latino leaders we spoke with are very concerned about their quality of life as they age. They agreed that lack of savings and insufficient discretionary resources generates fear and anxiety. Older Latinos don’t want to burden their families. They know that unplanned expenditures, particularly related to health care, could place undue hardship on the family.
Based on our survey, among older Hispanics, 73 percent are concerned about access to affordable health care, and 58 percent worry about the precarious state of our economy and their ability to maintain a financially stable life.
More than half do not have retirement security or a retirement plan. “We are not retiring leisurely,” one leader told us. “At 50, we still have at least 20 more years to work.” In the words of another leader, “We have to take care of parents, children and grandchildren. In this economy, people who are just making ends meet do not have the luxury to retire.”
Given the concerns of older Latinos and heavy emphasis on intergenerational decision making, it is not surprising that Latino interests revolve around family interactions. The two top interests:
1. Spending time with family and friends, 88 percent; and
2. Supporting the younger generation’s pursuit of education, 78 percent.
More than half pointed to other relevant interests, including advancing jobs or careers, financial planning for retirement and traveling, while less than half identified social interactions beyond the family – such as social networking, community volunteer opportunities, or joining an organization representing their needs and interests – as significant interests.
At AARP we understand Latinos are deeply rooted in their love and commitment to family. As a proud Latina, I stand strongly by the principle, “Don’t leave any family member behind.” AARP applauds all Latinos’ quest to ensure that their children and grandchildren succeed in life. Whether viewed as an immigrant’s dream or as an American tradition, older Hispanics want to ensure that the next generation does better and is more successful than their parents.
At AARP, we are committed to reaching out to the Hispanic community and expanding our efforts to be more relevant and emotionally connected with Hispanic 50+ families. As a champion of 50+, AARP is also a champion of multicultural outreach and a champion of the Hispanic community, “campeón de los hispanos.”