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[Asian Fortune] Suffering in silence: The dilemma for older Asian American immigrants

March 25, 2015

 

(Courtesy of SimpleInsomnia via Flickr/Creative Commons)

(Courtesy of SimpleInsomnia via Flickr/Creative Commons)

[ASIAN FORTUNE NEWS]

In 1976 So Ying Chan and her husband came to the United States to help take care of her grandchildren. Her son, Michael Man, worked as the accounting manager at the National Education Association. Everything was going well. Then, in 1992, Chan’s husband passed away and Chan’s own health began deteriorating.

When Chan hit 83, she developed Alzheimer’s disease and became increasingly forgetful. During the day, when both Man and his wife were at work, Chan would wander onto the streets and get lost. Man would have to call the police to find her and bring her back home. Other days, Chan would be cooking something and wander off forgetting that she had left the stove on.

Not many elderly relish the idea of being placed in a nursing home, but for Asian American families like Man’s, the idea of a nursing home is even more difficult to swallow. It is traditional in Asian families for the older generation to live with their kids until they die. For a child to fail in this responsibility is considered the ultimate betrayal of the Confucian notion of filial piety.

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