A recent study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that older Asian American adults in California reported lower life satisfaction and receiving less social and emotional support than older adults from other groups.
The researchers reported that 54% of all older Asian American adults were satisfied with their life, compared with 80% of older adults from all other groups, according to an article by Healio. In addition, 56% of older Asian American adults reported “usually or always” receiving needed emotional support, as compared to 80% of all other older adults.
“We are not entirely surprised by the findings,” Riti Shimkhada, a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said in an interview with Healio. “It is a common misconception that Asians in the United States in general are doing better than other race/ethnic groups.”
The study used data from the 2018 California Health Interview Survey, examining 8,158 adults aged 65 and older living in California during 2018.
The study added that within the Asian American category, life satisfaction was 40% for Koreans, 48% for Chinese, 47% for Vietnamese, and 77% for Filipino older adults.
30% of Korean older adults reported receiving needed social/emotional support, 57% among Chinese, 59% among Filipino, and 65% among Vietnamese.
The study concluded: “Among AAs, Korean older adults were most likely to report poorer well-being. AA older adult communities may be in urgent need of further research and investment in interventions.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased anti-Asian hate crimes, the study writes that it is plausible anxiety within the Asian American community has risen. According to the Asian American Psychological Association, more than 40 percent of Asian Americans struggled with their mental health during the pandemic.
However, Shimkhada noted that the pandemic and anti-Asian hate crimes have also spurred more community-based initiatives, including the chaperoning of older Asian American adults, which may have had the effect of improving their emotional support.
The importance of community-based mental health screening and support groups within temples, churches, and community centers for older Asian American adults was also detailed in the study.
“Not much is known on how best to support the needs of older adults,” Shimkhada said to Healio. “Even less is known about the unmet needs of Asian older adults in the United States…we hoped to identify any unmet needs related to well-being of the older adult Asian population in this study as a first step to being able to better design services and solutions centered around what communities might be lacking.”
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