Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Views on Aging Can Vary Across Cultures

Views on Aging Can Vary Across Cultures

Global Content Strategist

I am from the Czech Republic. In our family home, three generations shared the space: my grandparents, my parents, and my brother and me. Although it was not always easy to get along, I grew up in a supportive environment of people sharing their life experiences and wisdom. My days were always filled up with family time. My grandmother would make my lunch; my grandfather would ask me to water the garden with him. My mom would take me and my brother for a walk; my dad would tell us a story from his childhood.

When I moved to the United States about 14 years ago, I came across a different family model. I moved where the grandparents lived in one state while the family lived in another. Communications between the generations were frequent but relied on phone or email. Holidays were celebrated together, but otherwise there were few trips between the states.

Culture

 

There are indeed vast differences between cultures on how generations live and interact. There are positive and negative aspects to any of these models. However, one thing to consider for us is this: almost everywhere in the world, the proportion of people older than 60 is growing faster than any other age group. I have been interested in aging and elder care for many years and believe it is vital to educate ourselves about these aspects of our lives, as aging affects us all in some way or another no matter what family model we have been exposed to personally.

Aging Elderly Care

Educating ourselves about how aging and elder care affect our lives gives us more options and opportunities to make healthy choices for us and our aging relatives.

Here are some things to consider…

What is my family model and how does it affect my relationships?

Living with several generations under one roof works for some people (as it worked for me). However, it may not be appropriate for others. Take a look at your family and start a discussion with your parents and/or children. Talk about how you are all connected and the responsibilities to care for each other as family members become older. Although it may not be comfortable, these conversations will open doors to sharing and defining expectations.

What are my views on aging and how will I deal with my getting older?

Cultural background plays an essential role in how we view aging. Are you scared of getting older? Is death in the family a dark moment or an opportunity to celebrate life? Are the elderly a source of wisdom or an economic burden? Would you care for your family member at home? Should the elderly actively move to retirement communities? These are hard questions. They reveal our deeply ingrained views. As you ponder aging and elder care, you will realize that you can change your views and navigate getting older to your satisfaction.

How will I handle care giving for my family members?

Most people are unprepared to become caregivers. There may be an accident or a sudden onset of a disease that require us to promptly reorganize our lives. You can read about my experience and the need to care for yourself as a caregiver in my blog post on the topic. No matter how you may take on the role of a caregiver, don't forget about your own mental and physical health.

Both of my grandfathers have now passed away, and as my grandmothers adjust to their new lives, my parents are stepping into the caring giving role more frequently and intensely. My grandmothers may need help with groceries or they may go check out a retirement community. I know that my family and I are wondering about some of the above ideas, and although it may be daunting at times, it is our responsibility to choose next steps that are the best for our family.

 

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The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
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