Elderly in American and Vietnamese Culture

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According to the New York Times research conducted in 2012, population of older Americans is growing faster than ever. However, there is no doubt that these American senior citizens are facing some issues as one angry American blogger has stated: “Remember what culture you're in! Our society doesn't value older, wiser, or more experienced people”. That statement may sound a little dramatic but is it true that American elderly is not well treated? In this paper, I aim to discuss about the American and Vietnamese society’s treatment of elderly. Moreover, I also suggest some explanations for the differences between the ways two cultures treat its old people. First of all, the strength of the America is: living condition. The developed economy and technology have brought many benefits to the elderly. Old American people live quite comfortably; they don’t have to worry much about their living condition. The median net worth of households headed by elderly is $280.000 in compare to the $126,400 of average American family net worth. According to the survey conducted in 2009, nine-in-ten elderly have their own home or apartment. In another survey, 42.3 million of 42.3 million Americans age 65 and older say that it's easy for them to cover their monthly living expenses. It’s clear that old Americans are able to support themselves without depending on anyone. However, even if they cannot take care of themselves, the old American people don’t have to worry because, in sense of health service or nursing houses, the American society and government seriously take good care of their senior citizens. There are more than 16,000 nursing houses for old people all over America, many of these houses has reached the 5-stars standard. The United States is famous for spending more on health care for seniors more than any other developed country on the world (America’s seniors, 2012). Moreover, beside health care, tons of money is also being invested in medical researches (95 billion in 2005). The seniors, of course, gain benefit from that investment. Rate of heart disease – the most common disease among old Americans- has declined by a third since 1980 thanks to many breakthroughs in medical field. The vast majority of old American people considered themselves healthy when being asked about health condition (Haya El Nasser, “Life's just good”) In contrast to the Americans, the olds in Vietnamese seem to be not so lucky with the so called ‘living condition’. A national survey conducted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health Portal in 2011 pointed out that 60% of old people in Vietnam live in poverty. It is even worse in health care aspect with only 5% of old Vietnamese people confirm that they are in good health condition. While 21% of old American suffers serious illness, the percentage is nearly 95% in Vietnam. It’s not because the government doesn’t care about the senior citizens but there is a lack of money and facilities to so. In Vietnam, poverty and poor health care service seem to be not only the problem of the old but also the young, the middle-ages and even the kids. There is still such a long way to go for the Vietnamese to improve the living standard and medical care for old people in Vietnam. However, ‘the richer’ doesn’t always mean ‘the happier’. When a person grows old in Vietnam, usually family and friends care for him or her at home until the end. In America, the elderly are more typically sent to nursing homes (Judy Lin, “Honor or abandon”). Government programs could provide money or 5-stars health care service but these things can hardly a substitute for a caring, loving family. According to the survey conducted by Pew Research Center, there are more than 66% of old people in America live alone. Moreover, 43% reported that they are lonely. Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel said that: “Many societies treat their elderly much better than Americans’. Most old people in American are not...
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