Familial Caregivers and Elder Abuse Among Chinese Immigrant Families
Method: This study utilizes a qualitative research design consisting of four focus groups with in-home care workers and nine in-depth interviews with service providers with several years of experience of working with Chinese elders. Participants were recruited using purposive, convenience technique with the focus to discuss elder mistreatment in the Chinese immigrant communities. One criterion for being selected for participation was that service providers were knowledgeable about elder mistreatment in the Chinese as they were front line workers in their communities. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University. Focus groups were conducted in Cantonese, while in-depth interviews were conducted in English. Researchers and focus group facilitators used a question guide to facilitate open-ended questions. All interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and translated as necessary.
Results: The results of this study show Chinese elders have a different perception of abuse, and do not report abuse because of cultural factors. We find differences in acculturation to Western values among Chinese immigrants, language barriers and dependency among older adults which make them vulnerable to elder mistreatment. The findings of this study support previous research on Chinese mistreatment often by adult children, and the influence of Chinese cultural factors, such as stigma of ‘losing face” which may lead to under reporting of the problem.
Implications: The participants of this study emphasized the need to educate Chinese elders and family caregivers about appropriate care and the definition of abuse. Practitioners working with Chinese elders need to assess the knowledge of the elder’s perception of abuse and factors that contribute to the mistreatment. Service providers should assess for the acculturation level of the caregivers and elders, as this will provide the worker with the information about the differences in values and perceptions among generations which often leads to family conflicts. Future studies should further examine the relationship between elder mistreatment and expectations of care giving from both the elders and the caregivers.