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Are Chinese-Americans Ready for Nursing Homes?

News September 25th, 2015
asian-americans-ready-for-nursing-homes

Two companies are spending millions of dollars to tackle one of the least marketed demographics in senior housing: Asian-Americans.

Aegis Living, a for-profit senior housing chain, and Kin On, a non-profit company in southeast Seattle are separately investing millions of dollars to create nursing homes for Asian-Americans. Aegis is opening a luxury retirement home in Newcastle that will include multilingual nurses, a zen garden, and a Mahjong room. They’re even having a Feng Shui expert come in and help design the retirement community.

Meanwhile in southeast Seattle, Kin On is expanding its existing nursing home into a residence – specifically targeting elderly Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans.

Of course, these companies aren’t reaching out to the same clientele. Aegis’ retirement community caters to higher-income families, costing anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000 a month whereas Kin On has mainly helped house residents on Medicare and Medicaid.

What’s particularly interesting however is the fact that this is a distinct change in perspective for this generation of Asian-Americans. Sam Wan, the director of Kin On for the past 30 years, was the first to admit, “They live together, three generations together. The nursing home phenomenon is a pretty much a Western type-of-culture (thing).” Yet both Kin On and Aegis are spending millions to cater to this crowd, so does that mean the tide is changing? The short answer is yes.

Many Asian immigrant families encourage their children to learn English and find success. Aegis Living found and CEO Dwayne Clark recounted a story to KUOW news in which he explained meeting with a woman who was a high-tech executive. She explained the need for multilingual senior care homes in America considering “[she] spent almost $200,000 going to Stanford get [her] undergraduate degree and MBA,” and she wasn’t about to file that away to stay at home and take care of her mother-in-law.

Of course, nursing homes have been a part of American culture for quite some time, but in other countries (China, India, Mexico, etc.), it’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to continue living with their adult children. Many other countries have a deep respect for their elders, although that’s not to say America doesn’t.

Americans have always been proud of becoming self-sufficient – that was the whole reason behind “No taxation without representation” and that inspiration is no less true today. Today, it’s considered somewhat “shameful” or “lazy” for young adults to continue living with their parents after college. Many make it mandatory for them to get a job. There’s a distinct sense of working hard, making your own money, moving out and starting your own family.

Although there are always exceptions, for many Americans it’s not “disrespect” for seniors, but wanting to make them proud by being self-sufficient. We privilege that as a society. And similarly, this is why many seniors have a hard time admitting to their children and family when they need help, they too wish to be self-sufficient; they do not want to burden their family members with their challenges.

This is all the more reason why it’s important to find the right senior housing for your loved one. Finding a home where they can continue to be as self-sufficient as possible and feel home (say, with food from your culture and nurses speaking your native tongue) is extremely important. Contact our Care Advisors today to find the right residence for your loved one.

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