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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cultural Diversity Among Seniors

Subject: Discussion 4: Culturally Diverse by Tony Astro Topic: u04d1 Culturally Diverse Populations
Author: Tony Astro Date: October 31, 2008 12:45 AM

United States has diversity that is rich and trans-cultural and results to different attitudes from different aspect and labels: A closet gay Jewish in his 80s, a family woman African American Islam in her 90s, an Indonesian lesbian with dementia on her early 70s and other categories that should be in consideration when counseling but limiting it into those labels may also be detrimental to making adequate analysis of issues and conclusion / solution to the counseling. Overall human issues must be dealt with including the significant demographic transformation taking place everyday not just in the US but around the globe.

The West is beginning to experience significant demographic changes, with substantial cultural consequences. Historically, the aged have made up only a small portion of society, and the rearing of children has been the chief concern. Now children will become a small minority, and society’s central problem will be caring for the elderly. Yet even this assumes that societies consisting of elderly citizens at levels of 20, 30, even 40 or more percent can sustain themselves at all (Kurtz, 2005)

With this new perspective, we will see the children as the new minority; hence a new breed of “younger counselors” will exist. Many ethnically diverse Americans are immersing in so called “Hollywood culture”. This makes dealing with younger generation in understanding the older generation’s ethnic diverse culture more challenging.

In this topic, the Hispanics are not culturally heterogeneous; they have separate culture within their culture. Generalizing that they rely heavily on their families for long term and other care may not be right but keeping it in mind that most Hispanics do, it helps. Elderly Mexican Americans have the highest rate of poverty among Hispanic subgroups, while elderly Puerto Ricans report the worst health status (Butler, Lewis, Sunderland, 1998) will help counselors capture the need when counseling an elderly Hispanic.

If in the case of a homosexual 63 year-old Hispanic, the counselor must know his family and how he was treated during the course of his life being a homosexual. Discrimination abuse is most common to many particularly to Catholic community because of biblical teachings and Hispanics are in general Catholics. Counselors must be cautious but candid in bringing the issue of religious and family implications of client’s homosexuality.

Another culturally diverse group would be the Japanese. Old age ideally represents a time of relaxation of social obligations, assisting with the family farm or business without carrying the main responsibility, socializing, and receiving respectful care from family and esteem from the community (Dolan, 1994).

Many Americans make generalizations with Asians and does not consider that Asian may consist of Japanese, Filipino, Singaporean and even some Indian (People of India). It is dangerous to limit diverse group into Asian American when this group has different geographical and cultural upbringing and being among them (as this learner experience being a Filipino-Asian-Pacific Islander-Ilokano-Manileno American-Christian-Generation X –Straight-Military-Family man) the difference is vast when counselor dissect further.

Vision loss is among the most frequently reported disabilities affecting older people (Butler, Lewis & Sunderland, 1998). For an 81 year old blind woman, she is expected to be cared for by the society including sponsored child or government. Due to this slowness in visions, counselors must give importance to lighting and other ways to improve visual difficulty. The common restrictions, stigmatize and stereotype of blindness is more severe than hearing hence extra caution must be practice.

It is assumed that older people do not have sexual desires, could not make love even if they want to, too fragile physically and it might hurt them. These suppositions among the elderly makes a 71 year old impotent man comes to counseling with fewer expectations. But according to study, older man does not lose his facility for erection as he ages unless physical illness or emotional anxiety interferes (Butler,
Tony Astro

Lewis & Sunderland, 1998) and so counselors must not make the general assumptions as mentioned. Counselors must advise clients to a healthy lifestyle in order to get the goal or proper treatment if necessary for the patients.
Butler, R.N., Lewis, M. and Sunderland,T. (1998). Aging and Mental Health Positive Psychosocial and Biomedical Approaches 4th Edition Macmillan Publishing Company
Dolan, R. E. Dolan and Worden, R. L., (1994) Japan: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress
Kurtz, S., (2005) February, Journal of Demographics and the Culture War, Policy Review, Hoover Institution
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