Cultural Diversity In Aging
the aging population according to hillier and barrows America is at the brink of change when it comes to the aging population currently the age population is relatively homogeneous but it’s younger population is quite heterogeneous as this population ages identifying and using culturally relevant concepts will be important in understanding the framework of ethnic minorities and how they contribute to the broader category of the elderly as we look at contrasting and comparing the aging population across various minority groups it’s important to look through the lens of where we have been where we are now and where we are headed where we have been each culture of elderly brings a unique history that has shaped and formed who they are and how they view the world around them burton suggests it’s important to look at how social scientists have looked at the aging process and challenge their ways of thinking or paradigms from one of facts to become one of more relative and relevant contextual and developmental process of the group being studied for example when discussing the aging there are common influences that cut across racial lines however when looking at cultural and racial concerns one must identify the cultural meaning and dynamics of the aging process within specific minority groups in the past much research was based on the concepts that came from white middle class elderly individuals such as the term positive adjustment to old age this may be a variable being studied but the researchers did not consider how the measure of adjustment differed among diverse groups for example black Americans Mexican Americans Asian Americans Puerto Ricans and Native Americans all mean different things another example with ethnic minority elderly the tendency to pursue a perceive aging may be seen not as a series of adjustments but rather as a process of survival for an elderly black American survival connotes an ongoing struggle to maintain psychosocial balance without loss of identity or integrity and in fact may mean that an individual has developed strategies to keep from adjusting from the pulpit to the music of rhythm and blues the message of survival describes how black individuals managed to live through it all what is being suggested is that in looking at the diversity among the elderly it is important to consider how different groups of people experience aging where we are now Burton refers to the current generation of elderly as the quiet revolution defining them as a revolution of older individuals representing the broadest range of ethnic racial cultural regional religious political and socio economic diversity ever witnessed in American society trace and carry on sight more Americans identify as multiracial this is a mixed race of persons that make up America’s newest minority among all adults who married in 2008 31% of Asians 26% of Hispanics picked a spouse whose race or ethnicity was different from their own this compares to 16% of blacks and 9% of whites who did the same african americans the african american older population is the largest minority group among older Americans African Americans are less likely to reach out for help outside of the family than white counterparts and for most older African Americans Social Security benefits provide the foundation for the retirement benefits the poverty rate in 2007 was more than twice the rate for all elder adults they are also more likely to live within decaying cities with substandard izing housing more likely to live in public housing and have a higher likelihood of elderly to be cared for in home rather than being admitted to nursing homes as a result of fewer adequate resources among the poor life expectancy among African Americans is six years less than other populated groups the health standards is also indicates high hypertension arthritis and all types of heart disease and more than 40% of african american women over the age of 65 live in poverty Hispanic Americans older Hispanic Americans are an extremely diverse group both culturally and socioeconomically as a result of the lack of clear cut definition of who they are a census conducted in 1990 recorded 14 categories included in the making up of Hispanic demographics the percentage of elderly men and women living alone is lower than that of the general population twice the total population for older Hispanics in favor of living with relatives this is based on the idea of Familia which is family is forever the Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups and the largest u. s. minority group in the 2000 census with an older population doubling from 1990 to 2010 the social factors among the Hispanic elderly include a high percentage that live below poverty level inadequate health care brought about by poverty and cultural factors high illiteracy rates low occupational levels resulting in few benefits and retirement plans in 2009 the poverty rate for Hispanic older people was over 17% more than twice the percentage of non hispanic whites traditionally adult children provide a great deal of support to Hispanic parents in terms of chores housework transportation and shopping and large ethnic communities facilitate with higher rates of utilization of services provided for the elderly Asian Americans the term Asian American encompasses a wide range of countries and ethnicities over the population of over 65 of age 6% are Asian largely as a result of American laws that discriminated against Asians there is a long history of social implications for the elder for most the discrimination has contributed to feelings of mistrust injustice powerlessness and fear of government among many Pacific Asian elders traditional Asian cultures often observe a form of filial piety which demands family members usually the eldest son to respect care for and assume responsibility for elder parents unfortunately these traditional attitudes of respect often clash with dominant American values this cultural clash is not only witnessed in America as reported by NGO citing in 1980s 75% of elderly were living with their children in the 90s this number dropped to 66% as the downward trend continues to decrease so does the overall support the elderly receive from their children which is in part due to the shrinking size of the modern family as children and grandchildren become more enculturated intergenerational tensions result Native Americans the representative of a small number of percentage wise they represent the most deprived of all elders among any ethnic group many of the problems elders experience are due to minority status rather than age American Indians on reservations experience extremely high unemployment rates substandard levels of living health sanitation nutrition which occurs over a lifetime to create problems later in life most older Native Americans live on reservations while younger ones seek work in cities with the expectation that they will return to retire the educational attainment lags behind that of whites there is sizeable unemployment and the school dropout rate is twice the national average the workforce is largely menial and the majority of those over 65 live a life of continuing poverty where we are going it will not be until around the year 2020 that the older adult population will begin to reflect the diversity of the larger population by the year 2050 elderly diversity will be established indicating 30% of the elderly will be african american 36% will be elderly Hispanic and 40% will be elderly whites for the general population the implication for the aging population will require competent individuals trained to respect and work with such a diverse group according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics approximately 26% of all new jobs created in the US economy will be in the healthcare and social service industry beginning to understand and prepare for these issues now will contribute to factors such as income healthcare poverty religious and spiritual beliefs distinct to each culture..
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