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How Different Cultures Regard Their Elderly: A Brief Look At Aging Around The World

  • Lucy Thomas     -
  •      October 29, 2018     -
  •      0 Comments

In Western cultures like America, the general favor tends to lean towards a youth-centric vibe.  Stay young longer. Take your vitamins, and when you’re too old, you are sent away to live the remainder of your days locked away from the rest of society.

Other cultures, however, practice a high regard for their elderly.  Many cultures around the world value age, and an “old” person is respected for their journey and wisdom.  Here is a brief look at aging around the world, as we highlight the different ways various cultures regard their elderly.

The cultures of East Asia

East Asia runs largely on Confucian principles of filial piety.  Children are raised knowing that someday they will swap roles with their parents, and the children will become their parents’ caretakers.  

In China, there are strict laws in place regarding treatment of the elderly.  Adult children are bound by law to not “snub or neglect” their parents as they grow old.  Adult children are also bound by law to make frequent visits to their parents for the whole of their lives.  

In Singapore, elderly parents can actually sue their adult children for an “allowance,” and non-compliance results in jail time.  

African-American Culture

Contrary to the foundational beliefs about age in America, African-Americans tend to celebrate their elderly.  It’s not typical for African-American families to move their elderly to a nursing home.  Funerals are a time of celebration as well, mixed with an appropriate response of sorrow.  

Grandparents commonly live with their adult children, and a sense of responsibility is felt to care for their well-being.  Respect is also a large driving force in African-American treatment of the elderly.

France learned a valuable lesson

In 2004, France passed legislation protecting its elderly due to a few terrible statistical outcomes.  France sported the highest percentage of pensioner suicides, and a freak heat wave killed more than 15,000 elderly citizens.  

Most of the bodies weren’t discovered until weeks later, and France decided it was time to make changes.  Article 207 of France’s Civil Code requires adult children to keep in contact with their geriatric family members.  

Latin culture says stick together

Latin culture is centered around family.  Your family is everything, and everyone works together for the betterment of the family unit.  Often, several generations live under one roof, and everyone shares the duties of maintaining the home.  

The older individuals tend to care for the youngest generation, as the middle generation put their bodies to use working hard labor jobs outside of the home.  It’s a very honest culture, which holds family in the highest regard.