Self-Perception of When Old Age Begins for Cambodian Elders Living in the United States

Dubus, Nicole
June 2014
Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology;Jun2014, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p185
Academic Journal
Objective: To deepen the understanding of the life course of refugees this study explores the question: when do Cambodian elders perceive the beginning of old age? Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 32 Cambodians, age range 53-82, who attended an elder day center in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the modified grounded theory approach. Results: The analysis revealed that the participants primarily reported two determinants to defining when old age begins: 1) the body 'has too many illnesses' due to harsh working conditions; and 2) social role transition into grandparent. Discussion: This study extends research on cultural differences in aging, specifically identifying the cultural difference in the definition of when 'old age' begins. Age is culturally derived and creates expectations for social roles, health, self-identity, and behavior. Understanding how refugees experience the cultural discrepancies in their expectations of aging can inform providers who serve this population.


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