By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
When several generations of Asian Americans live under one roof, there’s an opportunity for the older generation to pass their wisdom and experience to the youth.
One family tradition is a filial obligation, the at-home caregiving of elder family members by younger members. Due to various demands in today’s society, the obligation becomes a major challenge to the younger generation.
Several King County organizations have stepped forward with services that fill the needs of these adults, as well as low-income Asian immigrants and refugees.
Club Bamboo at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) allows elders to enjoy line dancing, tai chi, qigong, and $2 lunches – Laotian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese.
“People may think ACRS only assists immigrants, refugees,” said Gary Tang, program director of Aging and Adult Services. “If they have questions, just contact us.”
Meals on Wheels at Senior Services (SS) responds to the nutritional needs of homebound Asian American elders. SS Chief Executive Officer Paula L. Houston said, “We are now in discussion with Legacy House about having them prepare meals that will be available to be distributed to our Asian clients around King County.”
SS also features such activities as community dining, tai chi, mahjong, Chinese fan dancing, and “Enhanced Fitness” at its senior centers around King County. “Our transportation takes people to and from our senior centers, so they really become the hub of many of our other core programs,” Houston added. “The other place where we are serving specific Asian American populations and Asian immigrant populations is through our transportation.”
The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging’s (NAPCA) Helpline provides bilingual help and translated information on benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Low Income Subsidy, and Social Security.
The toll-free telephone numbers are: 1-800-582-4218 (Chinese); 1-800-582-4259 (Korean); 1-800-582-4336 (Vietnamese); and 1-800-336-2722 (English). “This year, we’ve handled over 9,000 calls,” said Alula Jimenez Torres, NAPCA Healthy Aging Program manager.
In addition to information about public benefits, the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) runs the Sunshine Garden Chinese Senior Day Care, whose staff helps elders to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
CISC helps many elders who “lack family or social support here, are socially isolated, and are physically isolated,” says CISC program manager Stephen Lam. “So, that’s why they need an agency like us to help them connect and to access the resources they need to maintain their independence and safety.”
Other services include naturalization classes, field trips, and counseling for Asian American elders 60 and older living in King County.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) at NAPCA provides “paid internships” for Asian American elders at about 30 nonprofit and community service organizations.
They gain new job skills, while serving the community.
“It’s subsidized employment training,” said Eun Jeong Lee, NAPCA national director for SCSEP.
“We try to give them some guidance in how they can lead their lives, go from low-income to self-sufficiency.”
NAPCA also holds annual Senior Wellness Fairs.
Social/educational events and other opportunities
Seattle Public Library (SPL) Regional Manager Wei Cai said, “In 2013, we provided over 6,000 programs.”
Asian American singles attended one of these programs last August, a social skills workshop combined with a Chinese Valentine’s Day dance.
“Many of them were seniors,” Cai said. “We always create programs to meet patrons’ needs.”
The SPL also has citizenship information, DVDs, music CDs, ESL classes, and, of course, books. It even offers live jazz performances and meeting room space, all for free.
“(For) Asian Americans, particularly in my region, what’s popular is the print collection, like newspapers,” she said. “We have different languages.” (end)
For more information about Club Bamboo, go to www.acrs.org/activities.
For more information about Meals on Wheels, go to www.seniorservices.org/foodassistance/mealsonwheels.aspx.
For more information about Senior Services’ Senior Centers, go to www.seniorservices.org/ConnectWithUs/SeniorCenters.aspx.
For more information about the NAPCA Helpline, go to napca.org/helpline.
For more information about the Chinese Information and Service Center, go to www.cisc-seattle.org.
For more information about the Senior Community Service Employment Program, go to napca.org/employment-opportunities/scsep.
For more information about the Seattle Public Library, go to www.spl.org.
James Tabafunda can be reached at email@example.com.