Asian American Elders in the Twenty First Century Key Indicators of Well-Being

January 30, 2009 @ 5:00 am

For Immediate Release

January 30, 2009

New York, NY – Asian Americans make up a diverse ethnic group in the United States and account for one of the fastest growing populations of adults sixty-five years and older. The Asian American elderly population is heterogeneous, differing in immigration history, English proficiency, educational attainment, economic security, physical and mental health needs, family relationships, and services utilization.

Most Asian Americans are either first-generation immigrants who came to the United States decades ago or are individuals who joined their American families later in life. Adequate resources for tracking their health over the life span are relatively scarce.

In Asian American Elders in the Twenty-First Century, Professor Ada C. Mui of the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) and co-author Tazuko Shibusawa of New York University provide a comprehensive, up-to-date portrait of the unique challenges facing Asian Americans as they age.  Focusing on the six largest Asian American groups (Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese), the authors address issues relating to physical and mental health, intergenerational relationships, family support, acculturation, economic well-being, and the utilization of formal service programs such as Medicare and food stamps. 

Significant findings from Asian American Elders in the Twenty-First Centuryinclude:

  • Asian American elders with limited English proficiency are more likely to have poor health-related quality of life outcomes.
  • Depressive symptoms are extensive among Asian American elders, indicating a need to design an Asian-friendly mental health system.
  • Asian American elders who are engaged in caregiving and volunteering report higher levels of life satisfaction.

“Since Asian Americans comprise one of the most rapidly increasing segments of the aging population, their needs must be understood if we are to provide culturally meaningful services,” says Dr. Mui. “Our findings point to an urgent need to train more bilingual and bicultural professionals in ethnic-specific health and social programs.”

By linking research findings to policy, practice, and program recommendations, the book provides a resource that can be used in multiple disciplines, including social work, public health, nursing, geriatric medicine, social policy, and other helping professions.

Asian American Elders in the Twenty-First Century is available fromColumbia University Press for $40.00.(hardcover, 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0-231-13590-0)

For more information or interview Dr. Mui, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or


About the Author
Ada C. Mui is professor of social work at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Recognized as one of the leading social gerontologists in cross-cultural research, she is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and has been the recipient of many significant awards and scholarships. Dr. Mui is a fellow and an honorary associate director of the Sau Po Center on Ageing at the University of Hong Kong and an honorary professor of social work in the China Chongqing Normal University and The University of Hong Kong. She is also a research fellow in the Social Policy Research Center at the National Taiwan University.