UBC Theses and Dissertations
Exploring dementia care in Chinese immigrant families in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Chan, Sing Mei
Three aspects of dementia caring in the everyday life of Chinese immigrant families are not well understood: First, the notion of Chinese family or filial norm, in particular the key component of love and affection largely missing from the literature; second, the pathways between cultural beliefs and the actual caring practices of partners in care; and third, the Chinese person with dementia and the relationship with her or his carer, and their relationship within larger care contexts and structures. Borrowing notions from Buber, Bourdieu and Liang, the purpose of the study was to explore these gaps and uncover the connections between culture, emotions, and practice in Chinese families. Using the case study method and guided by principles of hermeneutical interpretation, four families comprising two or more family members and/or a service provider participated in in-depth interviews and observation sessions. Data were analyzed using ATLAS.ti to develop a holistic picture of each case situated in the particular and complex person-circumstance-time contexts of each family. Whereas the ‘story’ of each case, in its rich in-depth and contextualized details, was different and unique, cross-case analysis showed several themes that cut across all cases. First, routine caring practices are a culturally adaptive device as the routine practices embody the history, preferences and emotional investment of individuals. Second, the families draw on the cultural value of a Chinese relational self as reference for understanding family or filial obligation. Within the obligation are two aspects of responsibility and affection that co-exist and co-constitute each other. Third, in practice, participants draw on different cultures from their family, social, religious, and other life experiences in fluid and non-thinking ways that often introduce contradictions and tension between their thoughts and their actions. These non-thinking ways in between cultural spaces and dualities suggest alternative ways of knowing and being, such as emotional rationality or intelligence. Study findings on dementia care practices of Chinese immigrant families have important research and practice implications.
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