Older Immigrant Adults in the Diaspora: Emerging Issues in Interdisciplinary Approach to Practice
As Leon Ginsberg (2003) wrote “Clearly, aging and older adults are among the key social issues in the new millennium” (p.xiii). The presenters will discuss a framework that focuses on aging among immigrants, specifically older Iranian immigrants. Building on the existing knowledge about Iranian immigrants (Sullivan, 2001), the focus will be on the journey of older Iranians to the United States and their adaptation to the new culture. The presentation will shed light on memories of pre-departure arrangements to facilitate the journey to USA, the types of adjustments to the host country, and joys and struggles of adapting to the receiving country. This is a timely presentation given the current political situation between Iran and USA and the fact that other countries are experiencing an increase in displaced populations due to socio-political-economic, and cultural conflicts. Undoubtedly, one of the groups most affected by displacement and emigration is the elderly. Aging among older Iranians in the Diaspora is a complex issue given the historical and political circumstances between Iran and United States, including the hostile environment during the Hostage Crisis, current clashes between the two countries, and existing stereotypes about Moslems in general and Iranians in particular. As mentioned by Mafie (2006) “Maintaining an Iranian identity and nationality has been an on-going struggle for Iranians since the seventh century Islam-Arab attack on Iran.” The suggested framework has its underpinnings in Constructivism (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998), Resiliency (Greene, 2002; 2007), the immigration literature (Segal, 2002) and the Life Course perspective (Schriver, 2001). In sum, the presenters’ intent is to share with the audience the fit between the framework components and its appropriateness for practice and teaching about the richness, resiliency, and despair in an immigrant elderly population. The suggested practice framework can be easily generalized to other immigrants, particularly, from Middle East countries.
Keywords: Older Iranian Adults, Immigrants, Socio-Political-Economic, and Cultural Conflicts
Dr. Irene Queiro-Tajalli
professor, School of Social Work, Indiana University
Dr. Khadija Khaja
Professor, School of Social Work, Indiana University