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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Dominican immigrant elders: social service needs, utilization patterns, and challenges.

Author: Paulino, A.
Author Background: Hunter College School of Social Work, 129 E. 79th St., New York, NY 10021
Date 1998
Type Journal
Journal Title: Journal-of-Gerontological-Social-Work
Volume/Pages 30(1/2): 61-74
Subject Matter Dominican, Hispanics-; Aged-; Immigrants-; Service-utilization; Service-delivery; Needs
Abstract It is estimated by the 1991 U.S. Census Bureau that over one million Dominicans reside in this country. The growth of the Dominican ethnic group in the United States is also reflected in a steady increase of the elderly population. A review of census data and other pertinent literature identify the Hispanic population in general and the elders in particular as economically and socially at risk. This article includes an overview of the Dominican immigrants and their patterns of immigration to the United States. A discussion about the Dominican immigrant elders follows by using information obtained from a focus group held at a senior citizen center located in an inner city of New York; recommendations and implications for practice and research are included as well. An ecological framework is used as a practice perspective and as a way of understanding and organizing the material presented. Results from the focus group indicate the Dominican immigrant elders need services that will improve their quality of life by getting housing; getting their naturalization papers in order; and receiving medical and social services with the assistance of their social worker. An analysis of the participants' discussion in the group points to a strong sense of spirituality as a way of coping with stressful events such as an illness. The elders also show a strong desire to adjust to new situations, e.g., as it is evidenced by their commitment to comply with newly established welfare immigration law that regulates eligibility benefit requirements. Service providers will need to be familiar with the new immigration policies in order to be effective in providing adequate services for immigrants elders at risk. (There are 10 additional articles in this special issue on Latino elders and issues and challenges for the twenty-first century.). (Journal abstract.)