What specific challenges do older adults face? According to Congress and Gonzales, how do race, class, or gender identity affect these challenges? What factors do human services providers need to pay specific attention to when assessing older clients?

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Congressman Gonzalez is a champion for the rights of elderly Americans. On January 15, 2020, he voted in favor of the Protect Older Workers Against Age Discrimination Act to help ensure employment opportunities for elderly Americans who are capable and willing to work. In July 2019, he introduced the the...

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Congressman Gonzalez is a champion for the rights of elderly Americans. On January 15, 2020, he voted in favor of the Protect Older Workers Against Age Discrimination Act to help ensure employment opportunities for elderly Americans who are capable and willing to work. In July 2019, he introduced the the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2019, which seeks to eliminate the windfall elimination provision, a stipulation that limits social security benefits for those older member of the population who receive other "non-covered" pensions.

In general, Gonzalez's views represent a particular challenge of the elderly: they often wish or are forced to end their nearly lifelong employment and find themselves living on a greatly restricted income. Many seniors therefore face difficult challenges, such as choosing between needed medication and food or between heating and medication.

Gonzalez seeks to be the voice for the elderly who find themselves in this position, and his stance is to protect Social Security and expand Medicare for all Americans, including a focus on providing the elderly with needed medical supports.

Human services providers should pay attention to clues that might indicate that a senior cannot pay for treatments or medication. If a patient declines such services, further investigation is warranted to determine whether the patient is simply unable to pay for such treatment and to then be an advocate for obtaining needed resources within their community that could help provide needed assistance for the senior patient.

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Please note: The post contains numerous questions. The eNotes Homework Help policy allows for one question per post. This answer primarily addresses the first question.

In the United States, because of the baby boom, advances in medicine, and changing attitudes to health and fitness, the percentage of adults over fifty is much higher than in any previous era. Older adults are both uniquely positioned as a powerful force in politics and society, and subject to age-based discrimination that tends to curb their influence.

Longevity in and of itself brings certain disadvantages. Planning for a long life requires financial resources far beyond what earlier generations were required to amass. The precarious financial situation of many older adults places additional stresses on social services and health care. For example, many older adults not only receive Medicare but also Medicaid. Financial pressures contribute to the inability of the elderly to remain their homes, which can be a factor contributing to depression. Alzheimer’s and dementia affect more people than in the past, in part because we are living longer.

While many people choose to continue working or are forced to work because of financial problems, the elderly face age discrimination in hiring. In fact, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the largest senior advocacy organization in the United States, calls this type of discrimination an “open secret” because it is so widespread but rarely challenged.

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Aging poses challenges for everyone, but differences in race, gender, and class result in inequalities of privilege that make the challenges for some more difficult than others. To a large extent, these differences affect the daily lives and behaviors of people, including such things as their diets, their work, and their opportunities for health care. The concept of intersectionality explains the ways that people’s experiences over the course of their lives affect the challenges they face while aging, and it explains how differences in class, race, and gender breed a system of inequality that affects the quality of life in old age—which professionals often ignore.

Women tend to have lower incomes over the course of their lives, for example, because men tend to spend more years in the workforce and have higher-paying positions. In the United States, earned income over a lifetime determines the Social Security benefits people receive, and this in turn affects their quality of life after retirement. African Americans also tend to have lower incomes than whites. Thus, African American women are especially disadvantaged as they age. They often have to stay in the workforce longer than others, and they suffer higher poverty rates in retirement. People of a higher social class tend to exploit the lower class, too, and they tend to vote for programs that reduce public spending for the poor.

Older people are disadvantaged as a group; they lose their ability to work and their power over their bodies. They are often denied work because of age, even if they must continue to work to make ends meet. Professionals who deal with aging people should be aware that some are disadvantaged as a group, and that marginalized groups (including minorities and women) are more disadvantaged than others. They need to understand that differences in race, class, and gender explain why some people live longer than others and have a better qualify of life as they age.

The physical challenges of old age include maintaining both mental and physical health. People of lower socioeconomic status have fewer opportunities to receive health care, and they suffer because of it. People with physical and mental health problems are often excluded from productive activities, such as work and social interaction. These activities contribute to quality of life and lessen the challenges of aging. People from minority groups tend to enter old age in poorer health than white people, due to inequalities that have become institutionalized in society and that professionals must not ignore. Professionals must realize that whites—and particularly white men—have better opportunities to enjoy lifestyles that promote physical and mental health. Thus, people from minority groups are disadvantaged as they age, not by choice, but by circumstance. They do not suffer more health problems in old age because they failed to make healthy choices; they suffer more health problems because they were continually exploited, having fewer resources available to them to build lives that promote health and happiness. Those resources are primarily available to more privileged groups.

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