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March 2014: Issue 2.6    
In this Issue: 
Elderly Immigrants

For NYC's Aging Immigrants, It can be Hard to Create a Community
Bruce Wallace
February 18, 2014
Public Radio International
Read More Here > > 
Immigrants Facing Death Without Home Hospice Service
Daniela Gerson
February 20, 2014
New America Media

Report: Building Integrated Communities
The Latino Migration Project University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Milan, Italy

November 3rd-7th, 2014

19th Metropolis International Immigration Conference

Berlin, Germany
June 4th-6th, 2014
An Agenda For Shared Prosperity Conference

Washington D.C.
July 7th-10th, 2014
U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services: National Migration Conference


Older Immigrants in the United States

It is fairly well known that individuals aged 65 and older constitute the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.  What is not so well known is that the number of foreign-born individuals aged 65 and older has almost doubled since 1990. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are now almost 5 million foreign-born persons 65 years and older in the United States.  Treas and Batalova (2007) predict the number to quadruple to more than 16 million by 2050.


There are two key factors driving this growth.  The first is aging of the long-term foreign-born population and the other is immigration of older adults as a result of the family reunification or refugee admissions.  By far the largest number of foreign-born individuals 65 years of age or older came to the United States either in their youth or middle age.   The Population Reference Bureau (2013) reports that 60% of the foreign- born elderly arrived in the U.S. before 1970.  However this same report states that 10% of foreign-born elderly have lived in the U.S. less than 10 years. 


The needs of new arrivals are obviously quite different than those who have lived in the U.S. a long time.  Those who arrived a long time ago face challenges of aging more similar to the native-born elderly population.  Whereas new arrivals face increased barriers of language and culture that constrain their capacity to meet the challenges of aging.


It is especially noteworthy that recent older immigrants tend to settle outside the usual big cities receiving immigrants such as New York and Los Angeles where there is more of an infrastructure designed to facilitate immigrant integration.  Because recent older immigrants often connect with their children who immigrated much earlier, they may settle in smaller communities or rural areas where responsive support services for immigrants are especially limited. 


The availability of bilingual staff in health settings, senior centers or legal aid organizations are very limited outside of large cities (Gurak and Kritz, 2013).   Recent older immigrants tend to have very limited English language skills putting an extra burden upon other family members to function as translators of language and culture.  Latin America has replaced Europe as the leading birthplace for the older foreign-born population in the United States.  Thus Spanish and Portuguese language skills among elder care service providers are especially needed.  


Foreign-born individuals 65 years of age and older have a couple of important advantages over their native-born counterparts.  They tend to have stronger social ties and live longer.  A report by the Population Reference Bureau (2013) indicates that foreign-born elderly tend to live three years longer than their native-born counterparts.  This difference is even greater among foreign-born Blacks who tend to live five years longer than native-born Blacks. 


However these extra years of life may also be accompanied with disability.  There is also evidence that foreign-born older persons have higher disability rates.  This may be partially explained by having encountered more injuries or untreated illnesses in their earlier years as well as difficulty associated with securing treatment and instruction in self-care for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. 


In sum, elderly immigrants in the United States deserve more attention.  They are a very diverse group with challenging needs.  It has been suggested that limited English is particularly a barrier for recent foreign-born elderly and their caregivers gaining access to timely and proper services.  For those who entered the United States years ago, language appears less of a factor.  For them, barriers to appropriate services may be associated with lower lifetime earnings and benefits than their native-born counterparts.  



At BC, the Hartford Center is led by Dr. James Lubben, the Louise McMahon Ahearn Professor in the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and a leading scholar in social gerontology. Lubben's research focuses on social support networks among older populations. He is the director of the Graduate School's doctoral program and is also director of the Boston College Institute on Aging. 


Afghan Elderly Association


The Afghan Elderly Association (AEA) which is housed in the Fremont Family Resource Center 

and was founded in 1995 to help its diverse and multi -ethnic community. From its beginning, this organization saw the problems specific to people immigrating late in life, including loss of status in a new society as well as  language and transportation difficulties that only exacerbate the isolation common among seniors in any community.  

AEA is a grassroots organization, whose mission is to meet the needs of these under-served and often war-traumatized elders. AEA provides elders with culturally-rich preventative health programs such as the Chronic Disease Management and In-Home Support, which connects elders to community resources and whose staff provides seniors with health education and emotional support. Moreover, AEA offers a welcoming environment to female elders who are experiencing extreme isolation due to cultural norms and illiteracy. 


In 2004, due to AEA's impact on the Afghan community, Fremont and the Tri-City Elder Coalition launched "Pathways to Positive Aging" which is an initiative intended to help seniors gain a measure of independence in their new homeland and find "culturally enriching and affordable services and opportunities," including driver-safety training, walking clubs, intergenerational activities, and health care. The steps taken thus far by the city of Fremont are a remarkable effort to acknowledge and validate the struggles that many elders experience in the integration process into U.S. society.  


Read more about the Afghan Elderly Association > >


The Impact of Social Capital on Depression Among Older Chinese and Korean immigrants: Similarities and Differences

Bum Jung Kim , Erica Auh, Yeon Jung Lee & Joonhee Ahn

Aging and Mental Health, Vol. 17 Issue 7, (June, 2013)

Using a sample of 172 Chinese and 210 Korean immigrants in Los Angeles County, researchers in this study explore the manner in which these individuals use social capital. Broadly, the results of this study indicate that community participation was positively associated with decreased levels of depression in both groups. Some differences were found between the samples. Notably, information sharing had a greater positive impact on the depression levels of Korean immigrants. Likewise, Chinese immigrants showed lower levels of depression when engaged in political activities. The results of this study add to a growing body of literature which asserts that social capital is directly related to depression. For social workers this information is particularly useful because it supports the expansion of social programs for elderly immigrants.

Read More Here > > 


Health Status and Behavioral Risk Factors in Older Adult Mexicans and Mexican Immigrants in the United States

Emma Aguila, Jose Escarce, Mei Leng & Leo Morales 

Journal of Aging Health, Vol. 25, Issue 136, (Aug., 2013)

This article explores why Hispanics in the United States are healthier than estimates would suggest for others in the same socioeconomic group. Using a sample of Mexican immigrants aged 50 and over, the authors posit that Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. with poor health are more likely to return to Mexico than their healthy counterparts. While the authors find that this hold true for specific ailments, the overall hypothesis is rejected. This research is significant because it adds to the dialogue concerning aging, migration and health in the United States

Read More Here > >  


Acculturation and Functional Disability among Older Vietnamese -Americans
Thanh V. Tran, Thuc-nhi  Nguyen, & Keith T. Chan
Journal of Ethnic And Cultural Diversity in Social Work, Vol. 23, Issue 1, (2014)

A sample of 2,610 older Vietnamese Americans is used in this study to determine the relationship between acculturation and functional disability. Results indicate that functional disability is a barrier to acculturation for some older immigrants. Yet, the majority of those studied  had high levels of acculturation and low levels of functional disability. This is taken to support the idea that acculturation has a stronger impact on functional disability than functional disability has on acculturation. Further, the study found that age at migration and pre-migration experience had a significant impact on acculturation and health status.  

Read More Here > >

An Empirical Typology of Social Networks and Its Association with Physical and Mental Health: A Study With Older Korean Immigrants

N.S. Park, Y. Jang, B.S. Lee, J.E. Ko, W.E. Haley, & D.A. Chiriboga

Journal of Gerontology Series B , Vol. 42, Issue 1, (July 2013)

This paper adds to the literature exploring the role of social networks and social capital on the health of older immigrants. Researchers in this study examined the social networks of Korean immigrants and the connection between these networks and self-reported health and depressive symptoms . Data was collected from a sample of 1,092 older Korean immigrants living in communities in Florida and New York. Findings indicate that those who were married or lived with others reported significantly less depressive symptoms. Importantly, no networks consisting exclusively of friends were identified in the studied. Researchers posit that this may be an effect of immigrant patterns and social preferences later in life.

Read More Here > >  


Mental Health Help-Seeking Attitudes, Utilization, and Intentions among older Chinese immigrants in Canada
Yvone Tieua & Candace A. Konnerta
Aging & Mental Health, Vol. 18, Issue 2, (2014)

The way in which the mental help seeking behaviors of older Chinese immigrants are impacted by demographics, perceived social support and cultural beliefs are explored in this article. Researchers were also able to determine the rate at which these individuals accessed mental health services and attitudes regarding such services. The study concluded that 21.8% of the variance in reported help-seeking attitudes related directly to cultural beliefs. The article concludes with a discussion of the relation between cultural beliefs and help seeking behaviors. Although this research focuses primarily on Chinese immigrants, the subsequent discussion may be applicable to other immigrant groups.

Read More Here > >




Aging, Health and Longevity in the Mexican-Origin Population

Jacqueline L Angel, Fernando Torres-Gill, & Kyriakos Markides (Eds.) (2012) : Springer

This book identifies current and emerging health issues affecting this demographic, from health care disparities to changing family dynamics to the health implications of the United States' relationship with Mexico. Contributors test the Hispanic Paradox-that Latinos live longer than other Americans despite socioeconomic stresses-as it relates to various aspects of aging. Disability is discussed in social context, in terms of acculturation, family coping measures, access to care, and other key factors. And concluding chapters offer strategies for bringing the Mexican-American elder experience into the ongoing debate over health care. Throughout, coverage balances the heterogeneity of the community with its status as emblematic of minority aging and as a microcosm of aging in general. 



Asian Indian Older Adults in Silicon Valley: Quality of Life of Parents who Immigrate to Reunite with Their Children

Anita Jhunjhunwala Mukherjee (2013): CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

A definitive resource in understanding what contributes to the successful aging of this ethnic minority population, the book sheds light on the multiple risks of aging and immigration late in life. Proving to be extremely useful to a multitude of people, this educational study could be utilized by seniors and their families, service providers such as counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals, researchers, and government and policy-making bodies that deal with the ever-changing demographics of our country.


Diversity and Aging Among Immigrant Seniors in Canada: Changing Faces and Greying Temple

Douglas Durst and Michael MacLean (Eds.) (2010): Brush Education

Most immigrant research addresses the issues of integration and adjustment of young and adult immigrants with little work on aging. Diversity and Aging Among Immigrant Seniors in Canada breaks from this tradition by offering an eclectic collection of original research from many of Canada's leading researchers on aging and immigrants. This book examines how this cultural and ethnic diversity impacts social, health, and economic policies, as well as services delivered to seniors.
EDITORS:  E. Broderick, V. Corbera, W. Egmont, C. Goldstein-Walsh, J. Nomeland, and A. Young