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Disrupt Disparities: Challenges & Solutions for 50+ Illinoisans of Color

Feb 8, 2021

Illinois is at a turning point. While the total state population is shrinking, it continues to age and diversify. More than 34 percent of the state population of Illinois is above the age of 50 and continues to age. Of Illinoisans above the age of 50, more than a third are African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian American/Pacific Islander. In large population centers, such as suburban Cook County and Chicago, one-half to two-thirds of older adults are of color.

Yet even with these changing demographics, there has been little study of the experiences and needs of African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander older adults in Illinois and the public policy responses to the needs and challenges of these communities. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devasting effects of the pandemic on older adults in particular, the need to focus on these older communities of color is more paramount than ever.

Given these changing demographics and growing challenges, AARP, in partnership with collaborating organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago, Chicago Urban League and The Resurrection Project, engaged Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research & Learning to conduct a literature review and analysis of the existing research and data focused on African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander older adults in Illinois.

This resulting report focuses on the issues of economic security, health and digital connectivity for older adults of color in communities. The authors have outlined first-step policy recommendations that should be taken at the state and local level to begin to address these challenges for older adults of color.

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