Senior citizens address health issues at two-day community forum held at UTPA
Posted: 11/12/1998
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EDINBURG - Senior citizens arrived at The University of Texas-Pan American Annex Building by the busload Wednesday (Nov. 11) to address health issues at a two-day forum titled "A Voice for Hispanic Seniors in the Health Care Debate."

More than 400 senior citizens from across the Rio Grande Valley attended the second annual forum, held at 2412 S. Closner in Edinburg, which was hosted by UTPA's Center on Aging and Health with the National Hispanic Council on Aging and Amigos del Valle.

"It's a time to exchange ideas, discuss the best practice models related to health care, and to consider health policy issues and effective advocacy strategies," said Armando G. Dominguez, forum coordinator and research assistant for the UTPA Center on Aging and Health. "Our goal is to provide a voice for the Hispanic elderly at a time when it is most needed."

The forum was designed to provide information about important health care issues through speakers, exhibits, and workshops, Dominguez said.

The forum offered participants an opportunity to obtain information on health care issues as well as interact with people who are concerned with improving the health, and health care services for Hispanic elderly.

Gloris Farias, assistant state coordinator for Health Advocacy Services in Texas, said forums such as these help fill an educational need for the Hispanic elderly in the Rio Grande Valley.

"There aren't very many programs which deliver health information to the Hispanic community in a form which they can understand," said Farias. "Many times educational health programs are offered only in English, making it difficult for many Hispanic senior citizens who only speak Spanish to take full advantage of the programs available."

Arturo Hernandez, a 79-year-old man from Edcouch attending the forum, said he learned about so many different programs which are available to him and his wife.

"I didn't realize there were so many programs out there," Hernandez said. "I'm learning about HMOs (Health Maintenance Organization), Medicare and Medicaid. I'm hoping my wife will be able to get medical care through an HMO."

According to Dominguez, key indications show that the country's health has greatly improved in the last two decades, but despite encouraging news, Hispanic seniors suffer from certain diseases at up to five times the rate of other groups.

For more information on the forum, contact the UTPA Center on Aging and Health at 956/381-2138.