Elderly Chinese Immigrants Feel at Home in U.S.
Researchers at Georgia State University, the International Association of Long Term Care Directors and Shaanxi Normal University found favorable social policies toward older adults, such as Medicare, Medicaid, low-income housing and social services, are important factors that make older immigrants feel a sense of home in a foreign land. The findings are published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.
“Asian American seniors are minorities who receive little attention,” said Dr. Jenny Zhan, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State. “Their needs are often underserved because they are assumed to be self-sufficient and cared for by their families.”
Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S. The immigration rate of Asian Americans surpassed Hispanics in 2010 for the first time, and they became the largest portion of incoming immigrants. Many of these immigrants are older adults. Chinese Americans are the largest group and also the oldest, with a long life expectancy. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, the number of Asian Americans above 65 years old will be 2.4 million, three times the number in 2000.
Immigrants face numerous challenges when they relocate to a foreign country in old age, such as not speaking the language of the host country, not having a work history and having little income.
There is limited research about Asian American groups. No known study has examined the emotional aspect of Chinese seniors’ sense of home in a foreign land. As Asian Americans are immigrating into the U.S. in larger numbers, growing old and retiring in the U.S., understanding their sense of home and life satisfaction could shed light on their quality of life, as well as inform policy makers and community organizations of future needs for social services.
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