Old trees, new roots : the resettlement experience of older Jews from the former Soviet Union / Debra Greenberg.
The challenges of making an international migration in old age are enormous. Soviet Jews are the second largest immigrant group in New York City and 30% were over 60 when immigrating. (HIAS, 2000). This dissertation was a descriptive, cross sectional non-probability study of the demographic, social and health utilization profile of older Jews from the former Soviet Union living in the Bronx who emigrated after 1991. It asked what, if any, personal, familial and community support variables were associated with life satisfaction among this sample of older refugees. The study used a convenience sample (N = 62) identified from Bronx agencies and housing complexes who provided services to older immigrants. A 23 page structured questionnaire comprised of a series of standardized scales and open ended questions translated into Russian was completed in face to face interviews with Russian speaking research assistants.The research findings are understood within the limitations of the study. Limitations included recruitment difficulties due to subjects' and agencies' suspiciousness about the research purpose, the cultural sensitivity of the tools and the small homogeneous sample. This was a well-educated professional sample with strong family supports and a high level of service utilization. Though most self-rated their functional health as independent in ADL (81%), over 50% had help at home. 71% participated in adult day care programs. All reported having medical care. Life satisfaction was positively correlated with those having larger family support networks, participating in a larger number of Jewish community agencies and describing the reception of the Jewish community as good or excellent. Life satisfaction was lower for those who scored as having depressive symptoms and those with siblings.Implications for social work education included the need for improved cultural competence, mediation skills and sensitivity on concepts of health and life satisfaction. Further research is needed on the impact of the Holocaust on these refugees and their children and on the impact of the immigration process on intergenerational relationships, as refugees are so dependent on family support.
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