Asian-Americans and Senior Caregiving: Challenges and Solutions

In our local communities, Asian-Americans represent a growing portion of the population. This population is one that faces significant challenges when it comes to aging and caregiving.

Asian-American immigrant families tend to be smaller, with a less extensive support network of relatives. Language barriers are also frequently an issue, and adult children often assume the role of interpreters or translators for parents who are attempting to navigate the medical or social service systems.

Studies have shown that Asian-American caregivers tend to make less use of professional support services than other groups. This finding may be due, at least in part, to cultural expectations of inter-generational caregiving. It is considered an honored duty to care for one’s parents or grandparents in most Asian cultures, an expectation born out by the numbers; e.g., Asian-American caregivers are more likely to live in the same home as the person they care for (35%, as opposed to 19% of white caregivers).

Small support networks, language barriers, and strong cultural admonitions can combine to make caregiving particularly challenging for families of older Asian-Americans.

And the challenge is growing, as the number of older adults of Asian, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islanders origin in the U.S. increases. Less than one million Asian-Americans were aged 65 and above in 2000, according to the Administration on Aging. By 2020, that number is expected to grow to 2.5 million.