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  • Raphael Lee

Easing the Cultural Expectations of Retirement in Minority Groups



The cultural expectation of familial responsibility for eldercare among minority groups, such as Asian Americans and Hispanic families, contrasts with the predominant American narrative of independence and self-reliance in retirement. The traditional American model often emphasizes financial planning and reliance on retirement savings while many minority cultures place a greater emphasis on familial bonds and intergenerational support. These cultural norms shape expectations around retirement and eldercare, placing a significant burden on their adult children to provide physical, emotional, and financial support for their parents as they age.


This burden can be particularly challenging for adults who are already navigating their own financial responsibilities, career aspirations, and caregiving duties for their own children. Balancing these competing demands can lead to stress, burnout, and financial strain, impacting the well-being and quality of life for both caregivers and their aging parents.


In addition, the cultural stigma surrounding institutionalized care or hospice services within minority communities can complicate decision-making around end-of-life care. The fear of being perceived as abandoning or neglecting their parents may prevent adult children from exploring alternative care options that could alleviate their caregiving burden and improve the quality of life for their aging parents. This reluctance to seek outside assistance can perpetuate the cycle of caregiver stress and burnout, ultimately compromising the well-being of both caregivers and their loved ones.


In light of these challenges when facing the decision of seeking the best end-of-life care for aging parents in minority groups, it is critical for physicians to be equipped with cultural competence and implement a patient-centered approach on the subject. They must respect the diverse values, beliefs, and preferences of the minority individuals and their families while providing them with the best possible care. Healthcare professionals must engage in open and honest conversations with patients and their families, acknowledging the cultural significance of familial involvement in decision-making while also promoting autonomy and self-determination. This may involve facilitating discussions about advance care planning, exploring alternative care options, and providing resources and support services tailored to the needs of minority caregivers and their aging parents.


The different cultural expectations of familial responsibilities for elders among minority groups and the predominant American thought of self-reliance highlights the complex dynamics regarding retirement and end-of-life care in the nation. The burden placed on the children of minority groups can be overwhelming, impacting the lives of both the caregivers and their parents. It is critical for healthcare workers to communicate with the families of minority groups with an open mind respecting their different cultural values to provide the best care possible to ease the burden.

 

Reviewed by Leah Kim


Citations

  1. Andruske, C. L., & O’Connor, D. (2020). Family care across diverse cultures: Re-envisioning using a transnational lens. Journal of Aging Studies, 55, 100892. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2020.100892

  2. Dang, M. (2023, January 21). Their children are their retirement plans. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/21/business/retirement-immigrant-families.html?auth=login-google1tap&login=google1tap

  3. Miyawaki, C. E., Bouldin, E. D., Taylor, C. A., McGuire, L. C., & Markides, K. S. (2022). Characteristics of Asian American family caregivers of older adults compared to caregivers of other racial/ethnic groups: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2015–2020. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(5), 1101–1107. https://doi.org/10.1177/07334648221146257

  4. Vega, T. (2014, January 14). As parents age, Asian-Americans struggle to obey a cultural code. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/as-asian-americans-age-their-children-face-cultural-hurdles.html?login=email&auth=login-email

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