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Open Access Publications from the University of California

For whom is "Successful Aging" Relevant?:(Re)defining the Aging Experience through the Voices of Hmong Elders

  • Author(s): Vang, Mai Yang
  • Advisor(s): Kagawa-Singer, Marjorie
  • et al.

Academics, policy makers, and health professionals often use the phrase "successful aging" when discussing the needs of the elderly. However, the concept of successful aging has limited the scope of research in this area as it primarily has taken only the needs of certain privileged groups into consideration. The framework not only limits the number of individuals who can be seen as aging "successfully," but also defines who are seen as failing at aging. By listening to the voices of Hmong elders, my thesis attempts to contest the current theoretical framework of successful aging and reveal how it has been exclusive not only to the diversity of the aging population but also to Hmong elders in its definition. Utilizing an Asian American Studies lens, this paper will contribute to and expand on the discussion of culture-specific approaches to successful aging and suggests a way to establish a more fluid concept of aging that steers away from the ethnocentric focus that has dominated mainstream gerontology literature.

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