After the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, many Vietnamese people fled their war-torn country for the United States in search for a better life. Thousands of Vietnamese adults, children, and families crammed onto boats and traveled to the United States leaving their belongings, loved ones, and former lives behind. These people lost everything except for their memories of the fall of Saigon, the horrors of communist re-education camps, and the atrocities of the Vietnam War. For many Vietnamese individuals, these memories may transpire psychological trauma similar to the many Vietnam War-era U.S. veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a person experiences or observes.... Read More
Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month Highlight on Asian American Pacific Islanders
Alzheimer’s disease is a public health issue that impacts many. In the United States, 5.8 million people live with Alzheimer’s, while over 16 million family members and friends serve as their unpaid caregivers.
In light of June being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) is taking the time to reflect on how Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia uniquely impacts the aging Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Working closely with older adults through our programs, we feel the importance of these issues more with each day. After all, one of the greatest known risk factors for Alzheimer’s is age.
by Cynthia X. Pan, MD, FACP, AGSF. This article originally appeared on the GeriPal blog.
My colleagues often ask me: “Why are Chinese patients so resistant to hospice and palliative care?” “Why are they so unrealistic?” “Don’t they understand that death is part of life?” “Is it true that with Chinese patients you cannot discuss advance directives?”
As a Chinese speaking geriatrician and palliative care physician practicing in Flushing, NY, I have cared for countless Chinese patients with serious illnesses or at end of life. Invariably, when Chinese patients or families see me, they ask me if I.... Read More
A Little Too Late: Some Chinese American Vets to Never Receive WWII Gold Medal
Peter Woo would never get the chance to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his indelible service during World War II.
He died unexpectedly only six days before President Trump signed the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act into law on Dec. 20, 2018. Woo, along with many other Chinese American veterans of World War II, have passed away in the past few years. Now there are less than 100 veterans who might be able to receive this recognition for their service.
Flying Tiger Squadron
Woo was born in 1919 to a literary family in Taishan, Guangdong province. He came to the United States as a.... Read More
Despite connectivity, social isolation is not declining—especially among diverse older adults
When asked by staff of the Diverse Elders Coalition about the aging services available in her area, Elva, an American Indian elder from New Mexico, relayed how important her local Elder Center was to her and her peers’ well-being: “We as elders need a place to come to, [where we] have meals, do activities and visit with friends and relatives.”
Elva noted that the Elder Center was a place where she could get information about benefits and other available resources. “Many times, as a Native elder, we feel that we don’t exist,” she said.
In our increasingly digitally connected world, there.... Read More
What Is At Stake For Vietnamese Communities If The Affordable Care Act Is Struck Down?
Every year on April 30, many Vietnamese living across the globe commemorate what they term the end of the Vietnamese war (also known as the American war in Vietnam). Whatever side we were on, the war and its aftermath forever remain painful and frightening and continue to affect the health and wellbeing of the Vietnamese population.
After the war, my family and I joined over a million other Vietnamese immigrants who made the journey to reside in the.... Read More
My memories from childhood are extremely hazy. Most of what I can recall are fleeting feelings: the bliss in skipping around my Kindergarten classroom as I sang about the days of the week, the joy in jumping up and down on my parents’ bed as I watched “David the Gnome,” the curiosity in having accidentally swallowed a piece of gum, the preceding anxiety and subsequent relief in remembering my steps for a dance recital. Practically all my childhood firsts are long forgotten; I cannot recollect the first book I ever read by myself, or the first tooth I lost, or the.... Read More
For Aging Immigrants, Food from Their Homelands Is Key to Happiness
“Do you have drumsticks?” my 85-year-old mother asks the cashier at the checkout counter at Madras Groceries in Sunnyvale, California. The woman points to a pile of long, narrow, cylindrical vegetables near the counter. A half-hour later, a quick inventory of my mother’s cart reveals drumsticks, taro roots, squash, long beans, okra, winter melons, pointed gourd, snake gourd, spices, snack packets of murukkus and a bag of brown basmati rice.
Food bought, cooked, served and eaten is collectively the barometer of my mother’s moods, which are intricately entangled with her health. When she’s bustling around the kitchen, cooking sambar, kootuor olan with squash and winter melon,.... Read More
Vietnamese Death Anniversaries Unite Young and Old
By Christine Nguyen, MD. This story originally appeared on KALW FM’s “Crosscurrents.”
In 2006, my Mom had a dream. Grandma sat above her, perched on a black stone wall so high her feet didn’t touch the floor. “Mother,” Mom called, “You’re up so high. You might fall to your death.”
A phone call interrupted Mom’s dream. It was her brother. Their mother was dead. “Sister,” he added, “I’ve made Mother a tombstone. Black. Granite from India.”
Ancestor worship is the most common religious practice in Vietnam. It’s called Đạo Ông Bà, or “belief in Grandfather and Grandmother.” When a Vietnamese parent dies, the children make an altar in their homes for the parent’s spirit to live. The practice is.... Read More
A Mouthful of Pain for Older People: Sen. Cardin Introduces Medicare Dental Benefit
by Viji Sundaram. This article originally appeared in India West.
When Sanjog Kaur could no longer bear the pain around her upper molar that had been bothering her for months, she took a needle-nose pliers from her husband’s toolbox one recent day, sterilized it in boiling water, rocked the offending tooth back and forth a few times and yanked it out of her mouth. Then she put a sterilized cotton ball in the gap to suck up the blood
“I was scared, but I had no other option,” said the 70-year-old Indian American resident of the Bay Area, who asked that her real name not be used. “A visit to the dentist has always set us.... Read More
Differences in NYC’s Chinese Elders End-of-Life Care Preferences
Scholars at Fordham University in New York presented their recent research on Chinese seniors’ perspectives about advance directives and end-of-life (EOL) preferences at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting, held in Boston in November. Because most studies on this subject “treat Asians as one group,” the researchers differentiated Mandarin and Cantonese speakers to discern any differences in their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward end-of-life care.
The researchers said their preliminary findings show that the 150 Chinese elders who spoke Mandarin have somewhat higher knowledge about and more positive attitudes towards having a health care proxy to make decisions for them, should.... Read More
Ocean Le: Giving back to the older adults who have impacted my life
Please kindly allow me to introduce myself as Ocean Le, an aspiring health professional with the goal to improve the lives of older adults and their families. My interest in the field is embedded in the rich foundation of knowledge that has not been fully understood by the public. As a first-generation student of two immigrant parents, I have seen the detrimental effects of limited access to health care both domestically and internationally. This has inspired me to improve access to both health care and health care information – empowering people involved in the process of care.
My interest began in Honolulu, Hawaii, as an intermediate student at a Roman Catholic School. As a section 8 housing kid, I was.... Read More