Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) face particular challenges when providing care to sick and elder family members, and need more support to find balance in their work and family life.
To elevate the issue of caregiving within the AAPI community, APIAVote with support from AARP kicked off a three-part event series on caregiving with special guest U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Flushing, New York.
At Queens Library, Rep. Meng told the audience how family caregivers suffer because they manage not only everyday tasks for their parents and grandparents, but also the demands of their own lives, which cannot be sustainable over an extended period of time. They provide assistance in activities like cooking, cleaning, managing appointments and medication.
Rep. Meng shared why caregiving must be an issue on everyone’s radar in her district, raising concern on the high poverty rate of the AAPI elder population. “New York City Asian seniors are less likely to have health insurance coverage and receive Social Security benefits than other seniors do. There are high rates of limited-English proficiency among Asian seniors which can lead to increased social isolation,” Rep. Meng said.
Rep. Meng called on the government to provide better support to caregivers, highlighting how they are often in need of care themselves. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act “would establish a national strategy to support the more than 40 million Americans who help loved ones live independently in their own homes,” Rep. Meng said. She added that a bill called the Credit for Caring Act which would provide credit to working family caregivers.
“I’m not an expert, I do know that we have to do more, especially for communities here in Queens, New York, and communities across the country. This will become an even more urgent and important issue as time goes on,” Rep. Meng said.
Congresswoman Grace Meng's remarks were followed by a panel of speakers who shared why caregiving is a difficult but important issue in the AAPI community. "I see a lot of Chinese families and other Asian families wanting to retain their pride. They feel shame about bringing up the fact that they need help. There's a saying in Chinese: whatever is going on in the house, you keep it in the house. You don't ask for help. And that doesn't help," Dr. Cynthia Pan said.
She recommended the "IRS approach," a mnemonic device to help caregivers: information and assistance; respect and resources; and support. Dr. Pan talked about her experience working with hospice patients and how the narrative on what it means to be dying should change.
"In the hospital, they play music every time a baby is born. The baby is a new life, no accomplishments and we are celebrating already. Meanwhile at the end of life, we are just fearful and nervous. But we should celebrate the end of life because it's just part of the life cycle. We should make it a normal event rather than a sad event," Dr. Pan continued.
APIAVote thanks Congresswoman Grace Meng for her comforting words and the following guest panelists for sharing their personal stories as caregivers to AAPI family members: Dr. Cynthia Pan, chief of Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at New York Presbyterian Queens; Myoung Mi Kim, Director of the Adult Day Care Program from the Korean Community Services; Glenn Magpantay, Executive Director of National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance; and Dave Fung, caregiver.
The caregiving forum series will continue in Los Angeles with U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu on , and a date in Chicago will be set for 2018.