Statement to the Senate
In 1999, I was honored soon after publishing Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey to speak before Louisiana Sen. John Breaux's committee hearing on aging issues. The full text of my impassioned speech on caregiving is here, in two parts.
Good afternoon, Senators, and thank you especially Senator Breaux for inviting me here today to discuss the subject dearest to my heart: how we care for the most vulnerable in our society, and how that kind of compassionate attention can inform our nation as we enter a new millennium.
A 1991 Alliance for Aging Research survey found that although many Americans want to live to be 100, most are afraid of losing their independence and ending up in a nursing home. Blacks were less optimistic about living longer yet were less fearful of being in a nursing home.
In fact, minority populations are aging the fastest. They also have the greatest financial stresses in providing that care. According to A Profile of Older Americans, 1993 (AARP, from U.S. Census Bureau), between 1990 and 2030 the older white population will grow by 92 percent, compared with 160 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, 693 percent for all Native Americans, and 555 percent for Hispanics. Minorities comprised 12 percent of the population in 1992; by 2010 the percentage will be one-fifth, and by 2040, it will be 31 percent.