Different cultures have different views, traditions, and methods of providing care for their elderly. From the use of assisted living facilities to the expectations of a family’s role as a parent ages, you’ll find some significant differences in care methods. Let’s take a look at the different approaches to senior care that are most common in three cultures.
America: An Emphasis on Youth
American culture largely emphasizes and praises youthful traits. Unfortunately, that sometimes makes for a bias against seniors, and seniors in America may face ageism that leaves them feeling unvalued and disrespected.
With more and more baby boomers reaching senior age each day, some of that bias is starting to change. Many Americans value and emphasize the wisdom that seniors have gained during their lives.
The issue of senior care is a challenging one in America. Senior living communities continue to be built to accommodate the increasing senior population, but for seniors who need assistance in their day-to-day lives, options are limited. Home health care is costly, and assisted living facilities and nursing homes are often seen as less-than-ideal options. Loneliness amongst seniors is a serious issue, as is being able to afford the care that they need. Many seniors rely on family members such as children to provide them with the personalized care that they need.
Europe: A Transformation of Care
Europe has recently undergone a transformation in elderly care. Seniors used to receive care from their families as they aged, and senior adults would often move in with their adult children. However, adult children today often have more demanding jobs, leaving them with less flexibility when it comes to caring for their aging parents.
Generally speaking, European seniors enjoy many protections and benefits from their governments. Most seniors in Northern Europe are cared for by the state, whether or not they can afford to pay for their care. In 2004, France passed Article 207 of the Civil Code, which requires French citizens to stay in touch with their senior parents.
In Asia, seniors are treated with the utmost respect. One Chinese saying explains that having a senior in the family is like having a treasure in the family. Elders are respected for their gifts and wisdom.
According to Asian tradition, seniors should be cared for by their families as they age. The tradition of respecting one’s elders is heavily emphasized in Asia, and Asian society expects children to care for their aging parents. This tradition partially fulfills a necessity – most Asian countries provide little support for seniors, so it’s necessary for families to care for the aging.
However, geographic challenges for families who live far apart can make this tradition difficult to fulfill. As Asian women have begun to work outside of the home, and economics continue to evolve, Asian families must evolve, too. Many families continue to care for aging parents in their homes, but with a lack of home care programs or public facilities for seniors, this may be done out of necessity.