Later-Life Filipino Immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area: A Case Study of Health Status and Utilization of Services

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Brual, Janette
Health Determinants , Aging , Health and Social Services , Immigration , Filipino immigrants
This research contributes to the growing field of ethnogerontological research in Canada offering insights into the health and aging experiences of immigrants, with specific reference to the Filipino immigrant community. The two-fold purpose of this study was to first examine how ethnicity and immigration operate within various settings of senior-centered community and health care services. Secondly, this study examined the role of place and how it shapes health and age identities among later-life Filipino immigrants. In total 37 semi-structured interviews (22 key informants and 15 later-life Filipinos) and a survey of 138 questionnaires were collected for analysis. Results from key informant interviews support current literature which suggests that immigrant seniors experience significant barriers to services, such as language, economic difficulties, immigrant family conflict and social and cultural isolation. Sharing from their working and personal experiences, key informants expanded on their own views about cultural and ethnic diversity describing the intersectionality of immigrant, ethnic and social identities, as well as their experiences of health and aging in Canada. They also discussed the predominance of monocultural views of aging and the limitations of multicultural and culturally competent senior care services. Compared to research on other Canadian immigrant populations, later-life Filipinos reported high levels of physical and mental health and described very few barriers to health care access in Canada. In-depth analyses of later-life Filipinos’ narratives on their aging and migration experiences revealed culturally-informed views, expectations and understandings of what it means to age in a foreign land. Older Filipinos shared their ideas on the meaning of place, perceptions of aging and age identity, such as place-making and a sense of belonging in older age. This research considers the significance of ethnicity and migration as important social determinants of health and advocates for more life-course analyses on the health and aging experiences of the older immigrant. This research was built from a conceptual framework that incorporated concepts from life course theory and social determinants of health approaches in providing a critical perspective and examination about the role of place, culture and migration on normative views of the aging experience.
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