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Elderly Asian-Americans face the most hate in the U.S., per new AARP, Stop AAPI Hate study

The study comes amid AAPI History Month, and during a period of heightened AAPI hate over the last two-plus years.

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It is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and two organizations are sounding the alarm over the pressing safety concerns facing elderly AAPI individuals. 

With support from AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit that focuses on issues affecting people over 50, the national self-reporting tool Stop AAPI Hate, released a new report that examines the hate incidents directed against elderly Asian-Americans. 

The report closely reviewed previous data released by Stop AAPI Hate, which detailed the 10,095 hate incident reports the organization received from March 2020 to December 2021. 

Of these nearly 11,000 incidents, 824 of them were directed against Asian-Americans over the age of 60. 

The new report, released on Tuesday, May 24, shows that Asian-American elders were most likely to face discrimination on public streets (36.7% of all reported incidents) and at businesses (26.7% of all reported incidents.) 

26.2% of these reported hate incidents against Asian-American elders involved physical assault.

The report coincides with Older Americans Month, which is also celebrated in May. The theme for this year is ‘Age My Way,’ which focuses on allowing older adults to stay in their homes and live on their own for as long as possible. 

It’s also centered on exploring the many ways these individuals can not only remain in their communities, but how they can stay active in them.

For many Asian-American elders however, remaining independent and getting more involved in their communities are not at the front of their minds. Safety is no longer guaranteed each time they walk outside their front door.

This ongoing crisis of anti-Asian hate crimes has increased feelings of fear, stress and anxiety among older Asian-Americans. 

In a Stop AAPI Hate follow-up survey, nearly all who reported (98.2%) stated their belief that the U.S has become a physically dangerous country for Asian-Americans. 

Six out of 10 incidents reported by adults over age 60 involved verbal harassment or shunning (deliberate avoidance.) One out of four incidents involved physical assault, and in one in 11 incidents reported, elders were coughed and spat on. 

In 5.7% of incidents, elders reported being barred from establishments, and in 7.2% of incidents, elders reported having their property vandalized. 

“Elder Asian-Americans deserve to feel safe – but for the past two years have been struggling with hate, fear and isolation. This AAPI Heritage Month we need to recommit to their safety and support,” said Russell Jeung, Ph.D., co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.

One of the reports was submitted on behalf of an individual's parents, ages 65 and 70.

“My parents were pumping gas at a gas station when a group of men started yelling at them. They couldn’t understand them completely, but heard them say, ‘China virus’ and ‘Chinese.’ They were scared and got in the car and drove away,” the incident report read.

One report came from a 70-year-old disabled woman who lives alone in California. She detailed an assault and battery at the hands of two women in front of her apartment. One of the assailants said ‘I hate Asians,’ while the other punched the elderly woman in the face on her eye and cheekbone.

“After I fell, I passed out with a concussion. The ambulance took me to the hospital, and now I greatly fear for my life,” her report read.

There are several community based organizations that provide services for elder Asian-Americans across the country. The report highlights the work of San Francisco’s Self Help for the Elderly, the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) in the greater Atlanta area, the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) in Seattle, and the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York.

“We’re asking that elected officials honor this month with action by creating safer public spaces for AAPI communities and all communities of color. Funding and supporting community-based organizations across the country is key to building safe places for elder Asian Americans,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.

Stop AAPI Hate laid out a few ways that local leaders can address the ongoing crisis.

It recommends that governments should increase support for community-based organizations as well as improve its data collection by tracking hate incidents, and disaggregating data to better serve specific Asian-American communities.

In terms of legislation, Stop AAPI Hate recommends that the federal government pass HR 5937, a.k.a the Mental Health Workforce and Language Access Act of 2021, which is a pilot program increasing language access at federally qualified healthcare facilities.

“Asian-American elders deserve to feel safe, but for the past two years, they have been struggling with hate, fear and isolation. Our friends at Stop AAPI Hate examine this concerning trend in their latest report available today,” Chinese for Affirmative Action wrote on Twitter. 

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