Tahlequah Daily Press

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May 14, 2014

New Survey: Oklahoma Native Americans Say Personal Health Problems Are Their Most Important Challenge

SHAWNEE — A recent survey completed by AARP and the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center (OKTEC) 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 (OCAITHB), 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. “Working with partners like AARP Oklahoma, we are able to extend our effort to explore ways for improving the quality of life for Native Americans”.

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;

• More than half of those surveyed (53 percent) said the costs of utilities such as heating, cooling, electricity, water and sewer was a major issue;

• More than one-third (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’, most of the survey participants (25 percent) responded: would like to see their grandchildren be happy or be part of their lives.

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