by Jaya Padmanabhan. This article originally appeared in India Currents.
“What did you eat today?” my mother, Sarada, begins her phone conversation with my twenty-three-year-old daughter in New York. When my daughter explains that she made rasam and sautéed cauliflower over the weekend, Sarada’s face lights up. Later she tells me she’s happy that all her grandchildren love rasam, a staple broth from the south of India.
Eighty-six-year-old Sarada immigrated to America in her 70s, and finds equanimity performing activities and engaging in conversations that hinge around food. When she meets people she doesn’t know, she connects through food conversations, often.... Read More
As Death Approaches, Older Indian Americans Unprepared for the End
The 88-year-old man looked gray and emaciated, the outline of his collarbones clearly visible under the loose fitting gown he wore as he lay in a narrow hospital bed in an East Bay nursing home. His eyes were closed, his mouth agape. A tube delivered both medicine and food directly into his stomach. He didn’t appear to know what was going on around him.
Nearly two years ago, aspiration pneumonia put Chandra Bhatia (his wife asked that his real name not be used) in the hospital. Since then, other health crises have.... 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
Immigrant elders find relief with affordable housing in NYC, but feel isolated from community
Three mornings a week, Abu Sayeed, 64, wakes up in his home in Cyprus Hills in Brooklyn, NY, worrying about the subway. He wonders if he’ll manage get the right train. How long will he have to wait? As he gets ready for his long walk to the station – putting on a cap, a thick sweater, sports shoes – he worries if he’ll make it in time to catch the exercise class he loves so much at the Desi Senior Center in faraway Jamaica, Queens.
His journey begins at the Cypress Hills subway station in Brooklyn where he catches the J train to the.... Read More
We Hear You: Why Being Culturally Competent Matters in Aging Services
Salma Abdul* was born and grew up in Bangladesh. Her children left for the US to study, then settled in the country as permanent residents. When her husband died, she found herself alone. Her children, unable to leave their lives in the US, but worried about her aging alone, asked her to come and join them in America. When Abdul arrived in the USA at 69 years of age, she had to find her feet in a brand new country and culture. Her adopted country was technologically more advanced and spoke a language she didn’t understand. Its culture was completely different from hers. Its systems were complex and, because she couldn’t speak fluent English, harder to navigate.
It’s India Independence Day, 2017, and at the celebration being held at Queens Borough Hall in Queens, NY, the young announcer invites the next act to come up on stage. Ten women from India Home file in and start dancing, their bright white, orange and red saris billowing, their feet making dexterous patterns to the insistently upbeat music. The scene is remarkable not for the fact that there are Indian dancers in Queens, but because the women swaying on stage are all between 65 and 85 years old.
It is no coincidence that these women are so fit and.... Read More
Sixty-six and still a caregiver: Bharti Parikh faces the future
By all accounts, Bharti Parikh, 66, has led an exciting life. Her life has been an adventure that took her from a childhood in the tiny village of Patton in Gujarat, India, to a law degree, and fulfilling years in America that included working for the City of New York, being invited to be an artist at President Clinton’s inauguration, and being a singing star on TV.
However, there’s also another sadder, more stressful side to her story, one that is unfortunately shared by so many older adults in America. Bharti Parikh is a caregiver, and has had to be one for years. A senior herself, she.... Read More
New Partnership Working to Strengthen Aging in AAPI Communities
The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) is pleased to introduce and welcome you to our newly established Affiliate Network (AFN)! The AFN is a partnership between NAPCA and organizations that serve Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older adults and their families. This newly-formed network is aimed at strengthening the mutual delivery of services to preserve and promote the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of AAPI older adults as they age.
Through the operation of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) training for older adults, NAPCA has developed partnerships with over 400 community based-organizations in seven states. The AFN will solidify that partnership and expand to include organizations that provide.... Read More
Aging New York Immigrants Confront Shortage of Culturally Appropriate Services
On a fluorescent-lit stage at Desi Senior Center, an instructor leads a group of mostly Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants, ages 60 and older, in a session of balance and core exercises.
Aided by PowerPoint slides, he instructs them to squat in Bengali, then proceeds to count to ten in English. The women, dressed in colorful dupattas and hijabs, stand on the right; men, wearing Tupi prayer caps, on the left. They place their hands on their hips. Some close their eyes.
For five hours a day, three days a week in the basement of Queens, New York’s Jamaica Muslim Center, more than 150 aging.... Read More
Are South Asians more at risk for heart disease? Yes, and now there’s a new bill in Congress to address that!
This post originally appeared on the India Home blog.
Last year, Narendra Butala, a long time member of India Home, was facing a health crisis. He had been feeling breathless for a while. His blood pressure would drop suddenly and he would sweat profusely.
Still, he was afraid to go to the cardiologist because his brother had got a pacemaker in 2004 and had passed away shortly after. Even as he worried about the condition of his heart, he heard from one of his relatives. Pacemaker technology had changed, she said, and urged him to get a check-up. Finally, in July, a few months after his 78th birthday, Butala, took the plunge and went to Mount Sinai Hospital in.... Read More
Computer Classes Change Life for South Asian Elders
Until eight weeks ago, Rabeya Khanom had never used the internet. “I didn’t know anything about it,” she told me. She had just said goodbye to her computer teacher at India Home’s Desi Senior Center and was feeling a mix of emotions. Sadness because the free 8-week long computer class was ending. But also happiness because, as she pointed out, she could now, “email, and send photographs, buy ticket from travel sites, book hotel.”
Rabeya Khanom, 72, is a student with eight other Bangladeshi seniors in the free computer classes offered by India Home, in partnership with OATS, an award winning New York City nonprofit (the acronym stands.... Read More