Older adults; aging; health disparities; minority health; health equity; social determinants of health


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


This paper examines assets and unmet needs of diverse older adults and highlights the need for programs and policies that address the social determinants of health. The United States is undergoing an unprecedented demographic shift, becoming increasingly diverse and aging rapidly. Given these changing demographics, it is important to understand the strengths and needs of our diverse population of older adults. This study captures perspectives of diverse service providers who work with older adults in communities, to identify existing assets as well as unmet needs and challenges facing diverse older adults in Minnesota. Qualitative data were collected using key informant interviews with community-based service providers (N=15) as part of a year-long engagement project. Participants were purposively selected to represent African American, East African, American Indian, Southeast Asian, Latino, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s approach to thematic analysis. Results indicate a number of assets supporting Minnesota’s diverse older adults. Assets of cultural communities include culturally specific services, faith communities, and close-knit families. Assets of older adults include their cultural and historical knowledge, wisdom, experience, and resilience. Despite the many assets supporting diverse older adults, results indicate seven primary categories of unmet needs: (1) health (2) healthcare, (3) transportation, (4) housing, (5) education, (6) social support, and (7) financial security. All unmet needs sub-themes address health or social determinants of health, indicating the need for a broad range of policies and programs. As the U.S. population grows increasingly older and more diverse, it is critical that these unmet needs are addressed to ensure equity for aging well.