Asian-American caregivers experience greater demand for family caregiving

Asian-Americans not only have a desire to care for aging relatives themselves, but it is part of their common cultural practices and norms. As a result, Asian-American caregivers experience a greater demand for family caregiving than other cultural and ethnic groups.

Health and aging experts from Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted a comprehensive study, which investigated the cultural practices of caregiving in Chinese-Americans in Chicago. Results of the study will be publically released in a report on Friday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m., at the Chinese American Service League, 2141 S. Tan Ct. in Chicago, Ill.

"Filial piety is considered to be a key virtue in Chinese culture," said Dr. XinQi Dong, professor of medicine and director of Chinese Health, Aging and Policy Program at Rush University Medical Center and lead investigator of the FILIAL PIETY study. "This means to honor and respect one's parents by taking care of them, engaging in culturally appropriate conduct in and outside of the home in order to bring a good name to one's parents and ancestors."

"It is a cultural normal that is taught at a very young age, and many Chinese-American families are dealing with the stress of being a caregiver for elderly parents while trying to keep up this cultural standard," said Dong.

The Chinese-American community in Chicago is among the largest in the nation. Despite a rapidly growing elderly population in need of adequate caregiving, limited attention has been paid to the Chinese-American community and the concerns of Chinese caregivers.

Dong worked with Dr. Melissa Simon from the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, to develop a comprehensive report called the FILIAL PIETY Report, which chronicles the practices of caregiving for older adults, including caregivers' psychological distress, caregiving burden and intergenerational conflict among Chinese-American families in the Chicago area.

According to The FILIAL PIETY Report, one third of Chinese caregivers live in the same house as their parents.

An overwhelming majority believe they are responsible for providing elder care and nearly nine in 10 Chinese caregivers believe that the community needs to provide a greater amount of elder care.

Report findings also included:
-One in two Chinese caregivers helped their parents in performing daily activities necessary for living independently.
-Nearly three in four Chinese caregivers experienced stress and burden in caring for their parents.
-Half of Chinese caregivers reported symptoms of anxiety, and one in two reported experiencing some depressive symptoms.
-Researchers also found cultural differences between Chinese caregivers and older adults, as well as discrepancies between how caregivers interact with their father versus their mother.

"These figures are alarming and pertinent to the Chinese community and to the general U.S. society alike. Our model of understanding intergenerational relationships through culturally appropriate settings may have implications to other racial/ethnic groups," said Dong.

The FILIAL PIETY report is an extended research effort linked to the PINE Study, which is an ongoing investigation of the health and well-being of over 3,100 Chinese older adults in Chicago lead by Dong.

This report brings attention to the roles that intergenerational relationships and culture have on health outcomes, from the perspective of Chinese caregivers with at least one parent living in the Chicago area.

The FILIAL PIETY Report is a product of a longstanding, collaborative partnership between Chinese Health, Aging and Policy Program at Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern University and the Chinese American Service League as well as many other community organizations at local and national levels.

Community members, social service providers, healthcare professionals and public policy makers will be present Friday when the release of The FILIAL PIETY Report is released at the Chinese American Service League.

The FILIAL PIETY Report carries significant policy implications to address the increasing demand for elder care that accompanies the rapid growth of the aging population in the U.S.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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