Elderly immigrants

The backgrounds of older immigrants may affect the amount of support they need for integration.

Issues such as learning a new language and difficulties in finding employment cause challenges in the new country. A lack of language skills and unemployment may also cause loneliness. For some older immigrants, the inability to read and write complicates the integration process.

Particularly the senior citizens with a refugee background may have undergone traumatic events and need support in processing these.

The majority of older immigrants living in Finland come from the region of the former Soviet Union.

Culture determines conceptions of ageing

Different cultures determine age in various ways. In some cultures, age is determined by functional factors instead of chronology.

People’s cultural backgrounds contribute to how they perceive their ageing or how their family and other community regard them. For instance, the Somali culture views a 55-year-old as an older person.

In addition to their cultural background, older immigrants are people with individual needs, wishes and life story which must be taken into account when encountering clients, for instance.

Services targeted at ageing immigrants

In addition to medical treatment, older immigrants may rely on traditional and religious forms of treatment, which put them at risk of being excluded from society’s services.

Older immigrants have been invisible in the services and some of them have encountered discrimination. They must be provided with sufficient information about ageing and the services for older immigrants as well as interpreter services, which encourage them to use the available services.

Laws guide taking older immigrants into account

The Act on Care Service for Older People obliges the policy agendas on older people and integration programmes to also pay attention to older immigrants.

The Act on the Status and Rights of Patients requires care and service providers to encounter clients with immigrant background in a culturally sensitive and respectful manner that includes taking the clients’ individual needs into account.