Once upon a time
Prior to 1990, there were about 2 million immigrants over the age of 65 living in the US. Since then, the number has increased to about 4 million and by 2050, we will be living with 16 million senior newcomers.
Many of these senior newcomers are grandparents who come to the US to live with their adult children and help care for their grandchildren. Adult children welcome their parents and are happy to have live-in child care, but many of these seniors are isolated in their new communities, without social connections, with poor English language skills and often can experience culture shock and feel in conflict with new American values, especially around child-rearing. Some arrive after enduring trying circumstances in their home countries, and the migration journey itself can be difficult. Alone much of the day, with only young children, many immigrant seniors can feel isolated and can lose their voice. These factors can contribute to depression.
Tell me a story: The factr Family Story Book Project
Factr is launching a project to capture the voices, stories, and experiences of immigrant seniors to make their stories available to their families and their communities. By asking about their life and experiences, we let immigrant seniors know they are valued. As storytellers, immigrant seniors play an important role as culture and legacy preservers for their families and in their communities. By telling their stories, immigrant seniors become active contributors, reducing their isolation and promoting their well-being.
The Factr Family Story Book Project will engage immigrant seniors from five ethnic groups (Ethiopian, Latina/o, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian). Seniors will be interviewed by Factr counselors and asked about their life experiences and cultures. Stories will be recorded in both English and the newcomer’s home language and compiled into book form. Factr Family Story Books will be available in San Jose public libraries and on the Factr website.
Getting to “happily ever after”
A Family Story Book is an enduring legacy gift for the senior’s adult children and grandchildren and a source of inspiration for generations to come. Making the Family Story Books widely available will help inform the local community about immigrants’ life experiences and their cultures of origin. Sharing stories and learning about cultures supports the development of strong, cohesive communities and facilitates acceptance of immigrants from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The factr Family Story Book Project is one way to provide our community with an appreciation of common heritage and lead us to a greater sense of connection and compassion.