Rosenfeld and Popko (2010) state, while aging in place in the past has been largely confined to homogenous neighborhoods where neighbors were of similar income, status, and lifestyles, “by 2025…the quest for community could also involve the search for culturally sensitive communities. By this we mean places where residents share a common culture, language, and belief system.” These authors note this change, along with increasing diversity among elders, will lead to the continued growth of “ethnogeriatrics.”
Rosenfeld and Popko mention the desire of Vietnamese elders to live near Vietnamese groceries and churches; India Home in New York is providing culturally sensitive day care services, with activities from Bollywood movies to Indian vegetarian meals. Muslims in Toledo, Ohio are raising funds to build a nursing home and Chinese Americans are served at Aegis Gardens in Fremont, CA. Around the world, in Japan, India, and other countries where family care of the old was the norm, we are seeing a rise in acceptance of specialized housing and community planning for elders.
So, what do you think? As the population of diverse elders grows with the larger aging demographic, is ethnogeriatrics the answer? How can we prepare ourselves and our communities to address the culturally diverse needs of older adults? It would be great to hear your ideas.
Sharon Baggett, PhD
Dr. Baggett teaches gerontology courses in CAC's undergraduate and graduate Aging Studies programs and is extensively involved in program evaluation and issues related to planning for livable communities for people of all ages.