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Photo Credit: Nick Giuliani
The US population is experiencing a demographic shift marked by an increase in the aging population. Those born in 2001 can expect to live 77 years—a full thirty years longer than those born in 1900. According to the Minnesota State Demographer, elders in Minnesota have a life expectancy above national averages. While the current majority is non-Hispanic white, the diversity of our state’s elder population will dramatically increase by 2025. Those changes will undoubtedly have an effect on health and the social services that these populations receive. Somali elders are a unique segment of the Somali community whose needs have not yet been addressed by current health programs.
Since the Somali civil war in 1991, many Somalis have relocated to Minnesota through refugee resettlement programs. Today, the Somali community is a vibrant part of Minneapolis, adding to the cultural diversity of the city and its residents. Still, many of the Somali refugees and immigrants who settle here face a number of barriers in accessing basic health and social services.
At WellShare, we are working to design a Somali Elders’ Connection Project designed to serve Somali elders age 65 and older. Although project activities will be based in areas of Minneapolis that have high concentrations of Somali elders, the services provided through this project will be open to all Somali elders living in Minneapolis. An estimated 300 Somali elders will benefit from the program.