Cultural Assessment of Elderly Chinese Americans

Topics: Chinese language, Overseas Chinese, Medicine Pages: 8 (1519 words) Published: September 1, 2014

Cultural Assessment of Elderly Chinese Americans

Cultural Assessment of Elderly Chinese Americans
Chinese Americans make up the largest subgroup of Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), one of the fastest growing ethnic groups, currently representing 4% of the total U.S. population [4] (Parikh, Fahs, Shelley, & Yemeni, 2009, p. 7). This cultural assessment will describe elderly Chinese Americans in Flushing, New York, their ethnic and cultural health practices, religious belief systems, language, nutrition, literacy, education, and census data. Management of their health and illness issues is also discussed. Cultural assessment theory and an assessment tool are used for the study, and their usefulness, strengths, and weaknesses analyzed. Demographics

This cultural assessment is focused on elderly Chinese Americans in Flushing, New York where according to the revised 2010 census reported 56,355 Asians resided, comprising 70.35% of the total population. Although the census reported on all Asian subgroups combined, it has been determined that most of the population consists of Chinese and Korean immigrants. Studies have also shown that the elderly portion of the population often faces more disparate treatment in relation to health care and that is why this population was chosen for the assessment. Ethnic and Cultural Health Practices

Illness and death are usually viewed by elderly Chinese Americans as a natural part of life. Health is equated to finding harmony between the complementary forces of yin and yang. Special foods and herbs are used to restore balance between yin and yang and promote healing. Other common practices include massage, acupuncture, conferring with a medium or spiritualist, and moxibuxtion, which is a traditional Chinese technique that involves burning an herb called Mugwort to facilitate healing. Otherwise, Chinese Americans do not generally have conflict with Western health practices but when an illness is considered shameful, they often will not seek treatment. Bad news regarding diagnosis or prognosis is shielded from the patient by family members because they believe it will make the patient worse medically. With family having such a significant role in decision-making processes, it is imperative to explain and encourage durable power of attorney or other tool used to give power to the person making medical decisions. Religious Belief System

Religious practices the Chinese may follow are Confucianism (a philosophy), Taoism, ancestor worship, Buddhism, and Christianity. At one time, atheism was encouraged in mainland China so some patients will say they do not have a religion. Generally, Chinese religion is dualistic and emphasizes yin and yang which are considered the makeup of the Tao. Tao is their ‘eternal cosmic principal’. Health and Illness Needs

Common illnesses in the Chinese community include diabetes, stroke, hepatitis B, hypertension, tuberculosis, and cancers of the upper GI tract, lung, liver, and nasopharynx, and G-6-PD deficiency, a condition in which the lack of an enzyme results in anemia.” Chinese men also have a large tendency to smoke. As noted by Eng, et al (2005-2006), “Up to 65% of men from China smoke. Although there is no true conflict with Western medicine, Chinese Americans often institute traditional remedies before trying Western treatments. That is why they may initially present to the facility in an advanced stage of illness.

Management of Health and Illness
When managing the health and illness of elderly Chinese immigrants several factors are involved. Availing health care to those in need is essential to managing the health of Chinese immigrants. Understanding familial roles and relationships is another one of the most important factors because “culture emphasizes loyalty to family and devotion to traditions and puts less emphasis on individual feelings” (University of Washington Medical Center, 2007). Another...

References: 2010 census interactive population search. (2011). Retrieved from
Eng, J., Chung, W., Lee, A., & Gao, T. (2005-2006). Medical Chinese online teaching
University of Washington Medical Center. (2007). Communicating with your Chinese
patient. Retrieved from
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