September is National Senior Center Month
Older women face the same disparities as populations of color and for older women of color it is doubly so. In addition a woman’s situation in older years is also effected by marital status. The text lists those that are most at risk of poverty in old age are women who have never married, those divorced, and widowed, followed by women of color and finally those 75 years or older (Hooyman & Kiyak, The Resilience of Elders of Color, 2005). I would like to pose that lack of a marriage partner is not necessarily the problem. The main problem is the lack of the second source of income. A similar security could be attained by two good friends pooling income, a parent and spouse duo etc. Granted marriage has built in advantages in the system but possibly a new definition of family later in life would be helpful. Those forced to fend for themselves could team up with another to strengthen their quality of life.
Social Security is the main source of income for the majority of elder women of color. Their life time working record and again marital status negatively affect the total benefit received by women. Social Security is working to adjust their system by proposing a move to a care credit system that would shift away from marriage status based benefits, issue credits for nonpaid care giving, improve the progressive nature of benefits and introduce earning sharing programs in regards to social security benefits (Hooyman & Kiyak, The Resilience of Older Women, 2005)
It is disconcerting that the very attributes that make women the strength and backbone of most families are the same reasons they are devalued later in life.
Hooyman, N. R., & Kiyak, H. A. (2005). The Resilience of Older Women. In N. R. Hooyman, & H. A. Kiyak, Social Getontology A Multidisciplinary Perspective (pp. 655-682). Boston: Pearson Education as Allyn & Bacon.