The historic immigration reform bill that is moving toward a final vote in the U.S. Congress will ensure that undocumented elderly Hispanics have "a dignified old age," Dr. Yanira Cruz, the president of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, or NHCOA, said Thursday.

"When immigration reform enters into effect, elderly adults and those with disabilities will have important benefits ... (of) long-term support," Cruz emphasized to Efe, noting that more than half a million undocumented foreigners living in the United States are over age 55.

Approval of the immigration plan will have a special impact on direct care workers and will improve the "quality of attention and care for our grandparents," Cruz said.

The NHCOA's mission is to integrate the Hispanic perspective into matters of public health.

Cruz is participating in a forum organized by the NHCOA in Miami to address the challenges and difficulties confronting Hispanics over age 65.

It greatly concerns the NHCOA that some elderly Hispanics reportedly spend 95 percent of their income to pay for rent, to which must be added the high cost of medications.

Cruz points out that almost one in every five elderly Hispanics in the United States lives in poverty, compared with one in every 6.8 of non-Hispanics whites.

In addition, about 5.5 percent of elderly Hispanics lack medical insurance, compared to 1 percent of the non-Hispanic population.

According to U.S. Census data, in 2010 there were almost 3 million elderly Hispanics living in the United States, meaning that one in every 15 elderly adults was Hispanic, and that group is rapidly growing. EFE