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Aging and Stress

This study investigated the source of stress among different cultural groups.  Thirty-four participants both men and women from 65 to 100 years old were interviewed.  The participants were from Filipino, Latino, and Jewish senior recreation clubs.

A grounded theory approach was used throughout the study.   One core theme emerged; people go to senior centers looking for social connections and do not always find them.  The results were consistent with the research (Cussack, 1993); seniors’ centers present opportunities for older adults to develop meaning roles that contribute to the quality of their own lives.

One of the implications for TR practice is RT’s have the ability to create positive and healthy changes in elderly participants.  RTs can be instrumental in finding those needed roles for elders.  RT’s can train recreation professionals in communication techniques and group interaction.

I.Introduction

Many older adults are faced with situations they perceive as stressful.Researchers have identified causes of stress for seniors to include health concerns, loss of family, loss of friends, loss of finances and loss of independence.

Many older adults experience unnecessary stress and become used to living a chaotic and unhappy way of life.  If they understood the source of their stress, older adults could begin to manage their lives with positive results.

The researcher is seeking to discover the cause of stress in older adults, and if there is a difference among the cultural groups.  It is known that about thirty-one percent, or 9.9 million, non-institutionalized older people live alone (Administration on Aging, 1999).

II.

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Background

There is limited research on coping and stress management for older adults with a comparative analysis by culture and gender.  This study compared sources of stress among elders in the following immigrant groups: Filipino, Latino, and Jewish elders. The Filipino group was selected because it is the largest group of Asian elders in the county where the research was conducted.

The Latino elders comprise the largest minority group in the county, and the Jewish elders were chosen because many were immigrants who came to America seeking freedom from persecution and the terror of Western Europe in the 1940s and may be perceived to have higher levels of stress than the other two groups.

A goal of the researcher, was to provide information for those designing programs for older adults, to assist them in the reduction of stress, and to insure the programs are not only  appropriate to the needs of seniors, but their cultural needs as well.  “While each group of immigrant elders may have their own unique attributes and circumstances, recreation and leisure activities can help to expedite identity in the new community, (Ward, 2000).”

III. Method

The researcher gave a presentation and offered a warm-up activity on stress before interviewing the subjects.  Each subject was interviewed individually and asked four questions please see table 1.  The grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1994), a form of qualitative research was selected for this study because of the usefulness in categorizing empirically collected data to build a general theory to fit the data.

The primary research question was: what is the source of stress among Filipino, Latino and Jewish elders?  The sampling strategy used was snowball or chain sampling.

IV. Participants

The subjects for this study included males and females.  The groups were comprised of:

twelve Jewish females, ten Latina females, and eleven Filipino females’ ages 60 to 100 years old.  The male subjects consisted of six Jewish males, eight Latino males, and nine Filipino males, ages 60 to 85 years old.

See table 2.  The sample was drawn from three recreational clubs; one multipurpose center with a variety of cultural clubs and groups with one serving primarily Jewish elders.

  In the study, one senior center was a traditional multi-purpose facility operated by a large urban city (pop. 461,522) in Los Angeles County, and a private non-profit Jewish community center offering diverse programming and activities for individuals of all ages.

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