The Elder Abuse Prevention Project is dedicated to ensuring that older adults in the greater Boston area live free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As a part of that larger mission, we seek to reach the elders in the Boston area who are most vulnerable to abuse. We’ve found that immigrants tend to be especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation because many immigrants experience isolation, may not trust American authorities, and may be especially reliant on their younger family members. We have therefore made it a priority to reach out to immigrant communities, and have begun by focusing on Chinese elders.
When we first conducted a presentation for Chinese elders, our presentation materials weren’t well equipped for our audience. They couldn’t be easily translated and they didn’t reflect the needs of the Chinese elder community. Since then, we have connected with members of Boston’s Chinese community and our own Asian Outreach Unit to develop specialized materials for Chinese elders and their providers. Our new materials include simpler sentences that can be more easily translated, data and statistics that are specific to the Chinese elder community, and information on how Chinese elders in particular can seek help. We also have handouts that are written in Chinese.
In preparing our improved materials, we learned quite a lot about the Chinese elder community. The community is diverse and realities differ based on the area in China that each elder is from, and their experiences living in the United States. Generally though, we have found that many Chinese elders don’t relate to the term “abuse”. When we discuss elder mistreatment with Chinese elders, we’re careful with the language that we use so that the elders aren’t alienated. In addition, we’ve come to understand that many Chinese elders are reluctant report abuse by a family member, for fear embarrassing the family as a whole. We try to address that fear by showing that there are varied forms of help available, some of which don’t involve filing an official report. We also emphasize that seeking help has the potential to improve the lives of everyone involved in the situation, including the “perpetrator”.
As the Elder Abuse Prevention Project continues to grow, we hope to continue our outreach to immigrant communities. Already, we’re working on developing a training for Russian Elders. If you’re interested in bringing a training to a group of elders or providers whom you work with, please contact Betsey Crimmins at 617-603-1576. We look forward to continuing to grow and expand our offerings.