2017 Carl A. Scott Memorial Lecturer

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Extended Family and Congregational Support Networks Among African Americans

Robert Joseph Taylor, PhD
University of Michigan

This presentation provides a summary of research findings on the role of extended family and religious support networks as protective factors for older African Americans. As an historical context for the presentation, a brief discussion of racial segregation and discrimination experienced by older African Americans is presented, with an emphasis on the life experiences of Dr. Taylor. The presentation then explores the role of family networks and religious organizations as sources of social support for African Americans and describes relevant information bearing on these issues from the National Survey of American Life. The presentation then presents findings from Dr. Taylor’s research on family networks, religious participation, and congregational support networks. Following this, research specifically focused on the positive impact of family and congregation networks on mental health is presented. Finally, the presentation concludes with discussion of the importance of social work and research-informed social work practice in addressing the needs of older adults, especially older African Americans.