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Gerontological Social Work with Older African American Adults

The beginning of the new millennium represents a unique opportunity to reflect upon some of the challenges facing the field of gerontoIogical social work in working with oider African American adults. The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the key health issues facing oider African American adults and the manner in which these issues can be addressed in gerontological social work practice. The need for this discussion is suggested by Jackson, Lockery and Juster (1996), who note that the overall increase in the standard of living among oider Americans in the general population is not experienced similarly among oider African American adults. This issue is of increasing importance, given the fact that the number of African American elders aged 65+ years increased from 2.1 million to 2.7 million (a 29% increase) between 1980 and 1995 and is expected to increase to 6.9 million by 2030 and to 8.6 million by 2050 (Miles et al., 1999).