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Caring for Aging Asian Parents Challenge to Young

January 20, 2014
Plain English Version

An 81-year-old Vietnamese woman sits at home with Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter, age 61, has quit work to care for her.

This is the Asian tradition of care for elders. Other cultures, such as Latinos, also believe children must take care of their parents. Asian households are a special challenge.

Language barriers and cultural traditions are the biggest issues. Poverty and suicide are high among older Asian-American women. Most of them were born overseas.

Now, more older Latinos are going into assisted living and nursing homes. It is easy to find home-health aides who speak Spanish.

The tradition of caring for parents is changing. Families are more scattered. Both adult spouses may have to work, and cannot provide support for elders.

However, things are changing. The demand for services is growing. There are new agencies such as Penn Asian Senior Services (Passi). They train home health aides who speak Korean, Mandarin, Vietnamese and other languages.

The Passi director said, “I could not abandon my mother at a nursing home. That is not in my culture.” But many elderly parents are left at home alone.

Passi services provide help to people living at home. The helpers must speak the language of clients and serve familiar foods. In Philadelphia, a new center will serve ethnic meals. There will be training for caregivers and other activities.

As the Asian-American population ages, more community groups are meeting the need for services.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                              January 15, 2014

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