Understanding elder abuse and neglect in aging Chinese immigrants in Canada

Daniel W.L. Lai*, Gabrielle D. Daoust, Lun Li

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review and discuss existing literature and available research findings related to understanding elder abuse and neglect in culturally diverse communities, particularly the Chinese immigrant community in Canada. The conceptual understandings of elder abuse are examined, based upon the socio-cultural context and challenges faced by aging Chinese immigrants.

    Design/methodology/approach: Previous literature and research publications related to elder abuse and neglect related to Chinese in Canada were reviewed and synthesized. Statistical information and research findings were summarized to illustrate the socio-cultural context that defines elder abuse and neglect experienced by aging Chinese immigrants in Canada.

    Findings: From a culturally diverse perspective, influence of race, ethnicity, immigrant status, and cultural norms on the recognition, identification, prevention and intervention of elder abuse and neglect are important to consider. A key message for professionals working with the aging population, particularly older immigrants from ethno-cultural minority background, is that understanding the social cultural context in which elder abuse or neglect emerges is critical. For many of the aging Chinese immigrants in Canada, the socio-cultural circumstances that they have experienced, their social environment, and various barriers and challenges further prevent them from being aware of this emerging concern. Cultural norms and practices have played a critical role in their access to preventive and intervention services.

    Research limitations/implications: Although this paper is not based upon a particularly empirical research study, the research and literature synthesized are both empirically and conceptually based. As indicated in the review of previous research publications on the subjective matter of elder abuse and neglect in aging Chinese immigrants in Canada is limited. Research on various issues related to elder abuse and neglect in ethno-cultural minority communities is also relatively scant. Evaluation research on prevention and intervention programs is desperately needed so as to facilitate the further establishment of best practice prevention and intervention models that are culturally appropriate and effective. While research engagement with minority groups such as the aging Chinese immigrants who do not speak English or are not familiar with the research culture in the western civilization could be challenging, academic researchers and service providers in both the mainstream and ethno-cultural minority communities should further align themselves in practice-research partnership endeavors to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the aging vulnerable individuals could be better maintained.

    Practical implications: In order to provide culturally competent services, service providers should be aware of cultural differences in attitudes towards elder mistreatment, including the ways in which specific types of abuse (e.g. financial abuse) are defined within ethno-cultural communities, and the cultural values and experiences that shape these understandings and determine attitudes or barriers towards reporting, intervention, and service use.

    Originality/value: This paper is a first attempt in the research community to synthesize a few critical issues related to elder abuse and neglect in the aging Chinese immigrant community in Canada. The paper has connected previous empirical findings related to Chinese older adults as well as other culturally diverse aging populations to the conceptualization of elder abuse and neglect by considering the unique socio-cultural context faced by the ethnocultural older adults.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)322-334
    Number of pages13
    JournalThe Journal of Adult Protection
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2014

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Immigrant
    • Elder abuse
    • Chinese
    • Older adults
    • Research review
    • Elder neglect


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