Rose, 43 yrs

Oct 16th 2022

"When my dad immigrated, he was in his 50s and had a PhD in engineering. My dad assumed it wouldn’t be a challenge for him to find a job because of his education and vast experience, but he struggled enormously. He was told that he was overqualified and too old for the positions he was applying for and was rejected numerous times. They even advised him to drop his PhD and years of experience from his CV. You become aware of how crushing it is for your parents to feel that they are no longer good enough because of their age. My dad ended up driving a taxi and delivering fast food, and a lot of colleagues who were also immigrants, including doctors and academic professionals, ended up doing the same thing.

There’s a lot of noise about ageism. Most of the noise and advocating comes from people who are European or Caucasian, but ethnically diverse people have experienced all forms of discrimination, including ageism, for a very long time. But when we’re facing all this discrimination and challenges, they all just gel together. You’re not going to sit there and think, ‘this is ageism, this is ableism, this is sexism.’ You’re just going to say, ‘I am being discriminated against’. I became an advocate for aging because it impacted us as a family of immigrants. The reality is that the aging experience of ethnically diverse older adults is quite different from the aging experience of the Western community.

Part of what I’ve come to realize as an ethnic visible minority is that when you look at older people who have moved to a society that’s culturally or linguistically different from their own, there usually is no equity in the resources provided. Culture and language are huge barriers for minorities and ethnically diverse older adults. When it comes to ensuring that everyone has access to resources, I’m a huge advocate for the Arabic-speaking community. I realized that knowledge and education on elder abuse or financial support aren’t out there for these communities. If these adults don’t have access to these resources, it impacts how they feel about belonging to that society, how they age, and whether they want to age in that society."

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