Elderly people fear family falls short in ethnic minority communities

October 20, 2014

Older people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in England fear changes in cultural attitudes will leave them without the family care they expect to rely on in their twilight years, a new study has found.

The research, undertaken at Brunel University London, reports that elderly people in these communities expect their children and wider family will look after them in old age and are traditionally unlikely to take-up state social services.

However, those surveyed also expressed uncertainty over whether changes in cultural attitudes and geographical factors would mean their families would still want or be able to support them.

The study, 'Families and Caring in South Asian Communities', interviewed 110 men and women over the age of 50 from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in the south of England to help understand the experience of old age in ethnic minority communities.

Author Prof Christina Victor, Professor of Gerontology and Public Health at Brunel University London, said: "All of our participants expected that their children would support them in old age in some way, but there was also a very real concern that things were changing in the South Asian community, with concerns expressed about 'neglectful' children and older people being put into homes by their families.

"Using social care was often perceived negatively because it suggested a lack of family support and consequent loss of face within the wider community."

The study points to the need for social care services in Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities to focus on supporting families to care rather than being seen as an alternative to family care.
The paper 'Families and Caring in South Asian Communities' by Christina R Victor is published by the NDA Research Programme at http://www.newdynamics.group.shef.ac.uk/assets/files/NDA%20Findings%2025.pdf

Brunel University

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