Immigration is perhaps the hardest on seniors. A large portion of immigrant seniors speak little English, have difficulty getting around on their own and live with their relatives. As a result, many feel isolated and are totally dependent on their children who are busy with their own lives.
Many feel obligated to their children who have officially “sponsored” them to come to Canada, and are responsible for them financially. But many feel like they are being taken advantage of, for example, in overusing them for babysitting. Others dislike the changes they see in their children and grandchildren as they adapt to Canadian society.
The good news is that there are lots of elderly people in similar positions. As a result, they often organize events or meetings targeted to their own age group or an ethnic background. For example, in Vancouver, there is a chess club run by retired Russian people who set up weekly tournaments. Turn to your local ethnic newspaper or immigrant settlement agency to find all sorts of groups and programs targeted to seniors, from outdoor outings to weekly dance classes to English lessons.
It’s important that senior immigrants not just live in a bubble, but explore what Canada has to offer them, too. Here are some tips for senior immigrants to make the most of living in Canada.
1.Take English as a second language (ESL) classes and work hard at learning English; language skills will equal more independence.
2.Go to settlement organizations to receive free assistance in accessing services designed for seniors.
3.Get to know seniors from outside your ethnicity.
4.Go for walks in your neighbourhood and get to know the area; learn how to take public transportation or call a taxi.
5.Join senior centres and get involved in activities and programs, such as lawn bowling, card games and dancing.
6.Be understanding of your children and grandchildren about their changing roles and expectations living in Canada.