Nov 4th 2018

Older Asian Migrants’ Psychological Well-being [an AUT study]

An Auckland University of Technology (AUT) study shows that strong relationships in community networks are important for older Asian migrants’ psychological well-being. The study found ethnic enclaves and volunteering were "pivotal" for the wellbeing of late-life recent Asian migrants. Mainstream community, health and social services are not the vehicle of choice for these elder Asian migrants to achieve health gains, it found. The report "Late-life Asian immigrants managing wellness through contributing to socially embedded networks" is calling for more resourcing to enable migrants to help one another.

The research by Associate Professor Valerie Wright-St Clair found recently arrived older migrants were more likely than younger or long-term migrants to be socially isolated. “Ethnic enclaves are a pivotal part of promoting wellness. This is counter to popular discourse that they are detrimental, and migrants should be integrated into the general community”, Wright St-Clair said. “Rather than expect late-life immigrants from disparate communities to engage with mainstream health services ... we should be looking at how to resource them to do more of what they're already doing - promoting health by enabling them to help one another”

Researchers interviewed 76 Chinese, Indian and Korean migrants aged between 60 and 83 who migrated here less than 20 years ago for the report. Wright St-Clair said a strong dedication to wellness came through resoundingly in the study. 

“There is this perception that older migrants are a burden to society - that they don't integrate as well as others might expect” Wright St-Clair said. "Ethnic enclaves, where people tend to keep to themselves ... are often viewed negatively as if they hold migrants back somehow”.

 “What we found is that, for older Asian migrants, these socially embedded networks are a vehicle for bringing health and wellbeing to others, as well as themselves, through volunteering”.

When they first moved to New Zealand, most participants started in ethnic enclaves. But they all had an aspiration to do this for the wider community. "Some groups were teaching Tai Chi or singing for people in rest homes, “Wright St-Clair said. "There was a real sense that if you can contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of others, you gain something for yourself”.

She said the results of the study supported the recommendation for publicly resourcing older migrants' informal networks to "enable older migrants collectively to provide for themselves". 

Publication

Older Asian Migrants’ Psychological Well-being [an AUT study]