By Frances Huynh and Dyanna Chung. This article originally appeared in NAPCA’s media center.
2020 was an incredibly challenging year for most people because of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. One significant thing that we have learned is that older adults are at a higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness and death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 8 out of 10 Covid-19 deaths reported in United States have been among adults age 65 years old and older. Despite the high death rates, there is still a lack of information and data on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older adults, which is important in assessing the health impact of COVID-19 on these populations. Additionally, since beginning of the outbreak, members of the AAPI community have suffered from discrimination and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic compounding the effects on mental health. According to AAPI Emergency Response Network, there were at least 1,900 hate crime incidents that have happened across 46 states since the beginning of the pandemic.
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, a member organization of the Diverse Elders Coalition, has spent over 40 years working on behalf of AAPI older adults and caregivers. We continue to be committed to promoting their dignity, well-being, and quality of life.
NAPCA wants to ensure that AAPI older adults and caregivers have the programs and services they need wherever they live in the United States, especially during this pandemic. That is why we have announced a partnership with Dr. Van Ta Park at the University of California, San Francisco on two major projects called “COVID-19 Effects on the Mental and Physical Health of AAPI Survey Study (COMPASS)” and “Collaborative Approach for Asian Americans & Pacific Islander Research & Education (CARE).” NAPCA is focusing primarily on adults age 50 and older, caregivers of older adults, and people with Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias, and memory loss to participate.
COMPASS is a nation-wide study conducted in collaboration with multiple academic institutions and community partners. The purpose of the study is to assess the effects of COVID-19 on Asian American and Pacific Islanders and their health, healthcare access, caregiving, discrimination experience, employment/income, and social support and coping strategies during pandemic.
As mentioned above, although research suggests that AAPIs are interested in being engaged, less than 1% of the National Institute of Health budget is allocated to clinical research projects focused on AAPI older adults. The lack of research worsens cultural and linguistic barriers and mistrust among members of the AAPI community. This is concerning because AAPIs are the fastest growing racial population in the United States, yet they experience significant health disparities.
To address the gap and reduce disparities in research participation among AAPIs, CARE will implement culturally appropriate and innovative recruitment strategies with our community partners across several major areas in the state of California to enroll 10,000 AAPI adults age 50+ into various types of research including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), aging, and caregiving related research that affects our health across the lifespan. We aim to give AAPIs a voice and the opportunity to participate in such future research through enrollment in the CARE registry.
To ensure our diverse AAPI communities across the country have access to the COMPASS and CARE studies, NAPCA is collaborating with organizations serving in the western, midwestern, southern, and eastern parts of the United States. Our current partnerships include: UNITED SIKHS (Queens, New York), Chinese Community Center (Houston, Texas), Hmong Cultural Center (Saint Paul, Minnesota), Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center (Boston, Massachusetts), Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency (Artesia, California), Herald Christian Health Center (San Gabriel, California), and Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center (Santa Ana, California).
We invite our AAPI communities to participate in COMPASS and CARE. For COMPASS, we would like to hear how COVID-19 has impacted your mental and physical health. This will help inform future policies and additional research that can alleviate the adverse effects of COVID-19. For CARE, your participation will help reduce disparities in research including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and aging-related issues among AAPIs.
You can participate in COMPASS from now until May 31st, 2021 by clicking here (tinyurl.com/compassnapca) and CARE from now until May 31st , 2022 by clicking here (tinyurl.com/carenapca) – both available in 5 languages.
NAPCA’s bilingual live operators are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between the hours of 8:30 am – 1:00 pm (PST) to answer questions about COMPASS and CARE and assist with enrollment online and over the phone. NAPCA’s Helpline is available to assist in the following languages:
Tiếng Việt/Vietnamese: 1-800-582-4336
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.