As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow and impact people of all ages, the health consequences have been devastating for older adults. Individuals over the age of 65 account for more than 77% of the lives lost statewide and a stunning 40% of the state’s total deaths have occurred in skilled nursing facilities.
Health vulnerabilities are just one of the many challenges facing aging people. This pandemic has elevated the financial hardships many people experience daily. The gender wage gap, which is especially wide for women of color, means that women have less ability to save, spend a higher percentage of their income on housing, and have little financial cushion, making them particularly vulnerable to economic disruptions. In addition, women are more likely to work in low-paying jobs or positions that do not offer benefits. As wage and gender discrimination compound over a lifetime, women are at an increased risk of poverty as they age.
CWLC collaborated with the California Commission on Aging in late 2019 to consider and discuss these issues and many others at the Elder Economic Forum. At the forum, experts outlined trends in demographics and population growth, ageism, and the economic inequity experienced by many older adults. We recently released a policy paper covering matters of concern called Solving the Economic Security Gap for California’s Older Adults, which captures the information presented at the forum and recognizes the cumulative, long-term impact of gender discrimination, systemic racism, and other injustices that impact the vulnerability of older adults. All of which are now being exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
The paper also highlights some of the innovative solutions featured at the forum and underscores the work that remains to be done to create a more equitable society that supports aging people. CWLC remains committed to breaking down barriers to economic justice and combating other forms of discrimination so that every person in our state can age with dignity.
The policy paper and a video of the Forum can be found on theCWLC website.
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