Struggles of immigrant seniors being studied
Hongmei Tong was a student at the University of Calgary when she realized there was a gap in research when it came to immigrant seniors connecting with their new homes and neighbours.
Tong, an assistant professor with MacEwan University’s department of social work, is now starting five years of research on barriers seniors face in getting involved in their communities. The research is scheduled to begin next spring.
“I got a sense that social integration is really, really important for seniors,” Tong said. “This is an under-studied topic.”
Tong’s study will involve Edmontonians originally from China, India and the Philippines. She will ask them what they think about participating in city life and getting around town. It will address the barriers they face to getting involved in their communities, and how their unique historical, cultural, political and societal backgrounds influence how they participate in society.
She hopes her research can help policy-makers and service providers understand this issue, and why and how Asian aging immigrants can better contribute to their adopted home.
Tong received a $172,853 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for this study.
While the rest of Canada is going grey, Alberta in general and Edmonton in particular is still young, according to 2016 Statistics Canada census data.
She said not only is being active important for seniors’ health but they also bring with them a unique view.
“They have time, skills, interest and a unique (skill) set for the society,” Tong said.
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