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May 1, 2014

Survey: Oklahoma Native Americans say health problems are their most important challenge

SHAWNEE — A recent survey completed by AARP and the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center suggests personal health problems are the number one concern of American Indians when asked ‘what is the single most important problem or challenge facing Oklahoma Native Americans in mid-life’.

Respondents to the survey stated other challenges faced were: staying healthy, the cost of living, retirement and transportation.

Nearly all those surveyed said it is extremely or very important for tribes to maintain current funding levels for health care access, while 87 percent said funding home modifications that allow people to stay in their own homes is extremely or very important. More than three out of four respondents, 86 percent, said it is extremely or very important for tribes to fund housing arrangements for people who can no longer live in their own homes, such as, adult family homes and assisted living.

The AARP Tribal Community Survey was unveiled at the 6th Annual Tribal Epidemiology Center Public Health Conference held in Shawnee. The survey polled more than 300 American Indian and Alaska Natives age 40 and older living in Oklahoma. It was conducted by OKTEC, part of the nonprofit organization Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board, in conjunction with AARP Oklahoma.

Tom Anderson, Interim Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Area-Inter Tribal Health Board and OKTEC Director said the American Indian survey targeted 14 Oklahoma communities and gathered information concerning demographics, challenges and priorities in life, consumer-related issues and monthly expenses and discounts.

“The results of this community survey reaffirm the mission of the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board to improve the health and quality of life of Native American communities through advocacy and education,” he said.

AARP Oklahoma State Director Sean Voskuhl said outreach and education to Native Americans is one of the top priorities of the association in Oklahoma.

“This survey is significant because for the first time, we now have a snapshot of the beliefs of Native Americans in Oklahoma,” he said. “This validates AARP’s past work on healthcare education, cultural preservation and transportation and gives us a solid roadmap to continue working with the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board as well as all 39-federally recognized tribes and nations in the state.”

AARP participated in a breakout session at the public health conference focusing on creating healthy and livable communities by establishing a rural transportation system in eastern Oklahoma.

Other key findings of The AARP Tribal Community Survey include:

 • The majority of those surveyed said they prefer to have family and friends provide care at home as their long-term care option, followed closely by having care provided in a home-like setting such as assisted living and being able to pay a nurse or aide to provide care at home;

 • 53 percent said the costs of utilities such as heating, cooling, electricity, water and sewer was a major issue;

 • 38 percent of respondents indicated they were extremely worried or very worried about protecting themselves against unfair or deceptive financial practices;

 • 34 percent of American Indians responding in the survey stated they were extremely worried or very worried about protecting themselves against identity theft;

 • When the survey asked ‘what they dreamed about most’, 25 percent responded: would like to see their grandchildren be happy or be part of their lives.

Earlier this month, AARP co-sponsored the 7th Generation Conference, which focused on health disparities of Native Americans in Oklahoma. AARP presented a demonstration on traditional healthy cooking featuring noted Potawatomi Nation Chef Loretta Barrett Oden. This is the third year AARP has worked with Oden to promote traditional healthy cooking.

In addition, nominations are now open for the 6th Annual AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors that will be held in October. To make a nomination online visit: www.aarp.org/okindiannavigator

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org/ok.

The Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board is a non-profit organization based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The board was established in 1972 to provide a unified voice for the 43 federally recognized tribes located in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Board membership includes representatives from the 12 service units in the Indian Health Service Oklahoma City Area.

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

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