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Swathi Nath Thaker

Abstract

In today’s society, life expectancy continues to increase as advances in technology continue to encourage the development and implementation of new medical treatments and solutions. For example, within the United States, persons over age 65 currently represent approximately 13% of the population (Bee, 2000). As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, this number will continue to increase. In addition to this growth, the rise in immigration continues to change the demographics within the United States, thus impacting the composition of the elderly population. As individuals within these minority populations age, their use of health services will continue to increase. Although there has been a wide array of research concerning minorities and healthcare, knowledge on the Asian Indian community is limited, even though this is one of the fastest growing elderly groups in the United States (Doorenbos, 2003). These immigrants value family and maintaining relationships and much of their learning takes place within and among the community in an informal setting. Furthermore, these distinctions become increasingly evident when exploring traditional Asian Indian health practices, such as Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on treating the mind, body, and spirit. Understanding these nuances is critical to serving the needs of this growing population. However, very little research explores how these cultural values impact the way in which these immigrants learn about health in the United States. For this reason, it is imperative to have a better understanding of how cultural values shape Asian Indians’ behaviors and approaches to health.

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May 28th, 10:31 AM

The Sacred Cow: Understanding the Role of Culture in the Health-Related Behaviors of Older Asian Indian Immigrants

In today’s society, life expectancy continues to increase as advances in technology continue to encourage the development and implementation of new medical treatments and solutions. For example, within the United States, persons over age 65 currently represent approximately 13% of the population (Bee, 2000). As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, this number will continue to increase. In addition to this growth, the rise in immigration continues to change the demographics within the United States, thus impacting the composition of the elderly population. As individuals within these minority populations age, their use of health services will continue to increase. Although there has been a wide array of research concerning minorities and healthcare, knowledge on the Asian Indian community is limited, even though this is one of the fastest growing elderly groups in the United States (Doorenbos, 2003). These immigrants value family and maintaining relationships and much of their learning takes place within and among the community in an informal setting. Furthermore, these distinctions become increasingly evident when exploring traditional Asian Indian health practices, such as Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on treating the mind, body, and spirit. Understanding these nuances is critical to serving the needs of this growing population. However, very little research explores how these cultural values impact the way in which these immigrants learn about health in the United States. For this reason, it is imperative to have a better understanding of how cultural values shape Asian Indians’ behaviors and approaches to health.