Developing a comprehensive understanding of elder abuse prevention in immigrant communities

Project Summary:

Older adults are the fastest-growing age group in Canada. In 2011, an estimated 5 million
Canadians were 65 or older, and by 2050, about one in four Canadians is expected to be 65 or over. Elder abuse is already a growing problem with significant societal implications and, given these demographics, is critical to address. Scholars are increasingly focusing on elder abuse, but little is known about the risk factors -- which include complex social variables -- for elder abuse within immigrant communities or what interventions might best prevent elder abuse in these communities.

Purpose: The purpose of this multidisciplinary study is: first, to develop a comprehensive classification of risk factors for elder abuse in immigrant communities: because immigrants represent an increasingly large proportion of older adults in Canada, it is critical to clarify these complex variables and how they combine to increase older immigrants' risk of elder abuse; and second, to identify the most appropriate and culturally relevant strategies to address the risk factors in immigrant communities in Canada. The study builds on the literature and our own work in this area, and addresses a knowledge, policy, and practice gap identified by various stakeholders across Canada.

Theoretical approaches: Theoretically, our study is guided by the intersectionality perspective and an ecological framework, allowing us to critically examine the complexity surrounding multiple dimensions of social identity (e.g., gender, race, class, culture, immigration status) and how these interrelate at the micro (individual and family), meso (community), and macro (societal) levels.

Consistent with this theoretical framework, we will use a collaborative, community-based,
mixed-methods approach to enable stakeholders to actively determine where research should be
conducted, which factors are relevant to abuse, and strategies consistent with cultural beliefs, values, and preferences of the immigrant communities.

Research plan: We will conduct structured group interviews with older women and men who have experienced abuse, family members, and formal and informal leaders from immigrant communities, and social and settlement service providers in the Greater Toronto Area. We will include two established and two recent communities from both the East Asian and South Asian immigrant communities: Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, and Tamil. Our team has expertise conducting research on elder abuse in immigrant communities in Canada, has well-established working relationships with these communities, and has conducted research of this scale on related topics. Quantitative and qualitative data collected via structured group interviews will be analyzed at the level of particular group interview, subgroups, and communities, and will be integrated across communities to identify common and unique risk factors and intervention strategies. We will pay particular attention to various social dimensions including gender,
age, culture, length of stay in Canada, fluency in English, employment and income, and extended familyco-residence.

Potential impact: The proposed approach is comprehensive in that it will incorporate local knowledge and expert contributions from immigrant women and men, family members, community members, and service providers and policymakers at each phase of the study. As a result, the findings will be relevant so as to contribute to the well being and social needs of older men and women in immigrant communities. The findings will contribute empirically and theoretically, as well as to policy debate and practice change, which will have local, national, and international significance.

Project Description:

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Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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Sepali Guruge

Collaborator Institution:
Ryerson University, York University

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(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)