Elder Care Giving in South Asian Families: Implications for Social Service

By Gupta, Rashmi; Pillai, Vijayan K. | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Autumn 2002 | Go to article overview

Elder Care Giving in South Asian Families: Implications for Social Service


Gupta, Rashmi, Pillai, Vijayan K., Journal of Comparative Family Studies


INTRODUCTION

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing an aging American population is to providing institutional and non- institutional support services for the elderly with an explicit objective of improving and maintaining quality of life during old age. Families play a crucial role in providing elder care as they utilize all available resources including cultural resources to cope with the burden of providing care. In particular, for the immigrant communities such as the South Asians, perceived care giver burden is influenced by the number and complexity of roles care givers play and the cultural meaning care givers attribute to the process of elder care. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of cultural beliefs on elder care giving on perceived burden among care givers who reside in the Dallas- Fort Worth Metropolitan area and who provide care to their elderly relatives who live with them.

One of the most notable demographic trends in the American society today is the fast pace of population aging. According to 2000 census there were nearly 37 million Americans older than 65 years of age. This population is expected to more than double and reach 82 million by mid 21st century. As baby boomers begin the process of attaining elderly status by reaching ages 65 years or older, the number of elderly will nearly double from 40.4 million to 70.1 million between 2011 and 2030. While fertility is the most important cause of population (Weinstein and Pillai, 2001), immigration also plays influences considerably the age structure of the population. As immigrants settle down achieving financial security, they often desire to be united with their immediate family which includes their parents and spouses. In 1996, nearly a million persons legally immigrated to the United States, a 28 percent increase over the previous year's immigration level. Nearly 18 percent of all 1996 immigrants were from Mexico. The second largest single source was Asia. The top states of intended residence for new immigrants in 1996 were California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois. The future cohorts of elderly in the United states are likely to become more diversified in terms of ethnicity and country of origin. The ethnic composition of elderly is also likely to vary widely across states depending upon the concentration of immigrants. The state of Texas in particular attracts a large number of Hispanic as well as Asian immigrants. South Asian families are more likely to contain first generation elders than non-immigrant native populations.

The demand for elder care services is currently being met through three different types of organizational arrangements. The first type is informal support. Among the three types of providing elder care, the most common is the informal. A large proportion of families with limited income provide informal support in the form of uncompensated services by family members and friends. Batavia, DeJong, McKnew and Bouscaren (1991) report that in 1997 over 27 million people served as informal care givers in the U S. The second type is medical. Heath care workers provide elder services. These services are often provided by physicians and nurses. A large majority of the funded long term care services that are dispensed under programs such as Medicaid, belong to the medical type of providing elder care services (Batavia, DeJong, McKnew and Bouscaren, 1991). The third is the independent living model of long term care. Under this model, individuals receive services in their homes from one or more personal assistants who are not trained as health care workers or supervised by health care professionals. Services are provided in accordance with the need and demand of the elder. The National Alliance for Care Giving (1997) estimates that the number of care givers under the second and third type of elder service delivery system is likely to reach 12.5 million.

It is well known that providing elder care services is a stressful activity. …

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