This qualitative research study explores the experiences of elderly female Filipino immigrants. The research aims to provide a broader understanding of how immigrants adapt to life in America. The study intends to help ensure that the individual experiences of this under-researched group is heard and examined in-depth using the phenomenological methodology, which is exploratory in nature.
| Eleven elderly female Filipino immigrants are the participants of the research, which uses face-to-face, semi-structured individual interviews. They are residents of the city of Vallejo in California, about 40 miles from San Francisco. In terms of characteristics, they are all widows, age 65 years or older, born in the Philippines, able to communicate verbally, able to read and write English, living in the US for at least five years, and willing to share their experiences and feelings about the topic of this research study. They are generally highly educated, three with Master’s degrees, six with Bachelor’s degrees, and the rest either with some college, high school or elementary education.
| Five themes have emerged from the data: 1) Traditions in Courtship, Marriage and Raising Children/Grandchildren, 2) Teaching Filipino Values, 3) Faith and Belief in God, 4) Connecting and Keeping in Touch, and 5) Making the Most of Living in America. Their stories revolve around three essential experiences, namely: 1) Their Changing Roles from Wife, Mother, Career Woman to Caregivers for their Grandchildren, 2) Using their Spirituality and Psychological Resilience as Coping Mechanisms, and 3) Connecting, Reflecting and Recreating their Life in America.
| Though the participants experience separation from nuclear or extended family as well as social networks, research findings reveal that they do not currently show signs of psychological distress. The results also show that their family relationships, spirituality, resiliency and social support are the glue that binds them together and helps them maintain stability and congruence in their adopted country, the United States of America.
Purpose of the StudyThis study is exploratory in nature, and the primary objective is to investigate the world of elderly female Filipino immigrants and uncover their stories using the qualitative approach of phenomenology. The results of this study may serve as an initial step in focusing attention on the mental health issues in this population so we can better understand the needs of elderly Filipino immigrants.A related goal of this study is to substantially increase the knowledge about elderly Filipino immigrants because currently, there is scant literature on this population. Furthermore, the results of this study can assist in developing culturally appropriate recommendations for policies and practices of mental health service-delivery systems to effectively meet the needs of elderly Filipino immigrants. By focusing on their stories, this study ultimately provides this population a voice that is rarely heard. Problem Background Over the last few decades, there has been a significant increase of Asian immigrants to the United States. Concurrent with these increases, the elderly population has also increased. The two most rapidly growing segments of the elderly population in the United States are Hispanics and Asians. This has been a result of immigration from Asian and Latin American countries, particularly the Philippines and Mexico. Immigration has had a major impact for immigrants and the host country. Immigrants face many challenges associated with new values, norms, traditions and patterns of interaction in their newly adopted country. The usual familial ties are not always available to them (Agbayani-Siewert, 1994). A study by Bemak & Chung (cited in Weisman et al. 2005) explains that across cultural groups, the stresses or immigration are more severe for elderly people compared to their younger counterparts. In addition, a study by Salcedo...
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