Australia is a multicultural nation; in fact, it’s one of the most culturally diverse in the world. We also have an ageing population. Fast forward 50 or more years since the mass migrations after World War II and Australia now has large cultural groups from Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland and other countries needing access to aged care.
Michael’s research shows that people with CALD backgrounds face added difficulties and barriers in accessing aged care, including language regression (which is surprisingly common, particularly for people with dementia), different cultural practices and norms, socio-economic disadvantage, and lower access to formal services. In many of these cultural groups, it has traditionally been the role of families to care for their elderly; but that social structure is rapidly deteriorating with social change. Many CALD Australians still rely family to provide support and access formal services for them (‘My daughter, she’s the one who fills [the forms] in. Who else?’ a 71-year-old woman explains), even as their families have less time to give.
CALD people don’t tend to blame their children for providing a different degree of care than traditionally expected. They acknowledge the factors making it difficult: having fewer children per family, increased rates of divorce, greater geographical distance as children move away, more women in the workforce, and families raising their own children later in life. There is a sense of resignation (‘Of course we prefer [receiving help] from our children, but they can’t... When our children didn’t have their own families, they helped us,’ one 88-year-old man says).