Researchers receive $620,000 grant to develop resources and services for Asian American elderly

A community education meeting, organized by AHS faculty, on the Medicaid redetermination process for older Medicaid beneficiaries, held at the Chinese American Service League in 2018.

Researchers in OT and DHD are developing a technical assistance and resource development center for caregivers, service organizations and community groups who work with older Asian American adults.

Called ASIAAN (Aging Services Inclusive of Asian American Networks), the project is led by principal investigator Mansha Mirza ’04 MS OT ’09 DS PhD, associate professor of occupational therapy, and co-PI Sumithra Murthy ’22 DS PhD, visiting clinical assistant professor of disability and human development.

The project is funded by a three-year, $620,000 grant from the Administration for Community Living in the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The idea is to strengthen aging services for Asian American elderly persons, so this could mean multiple things,” Mirza explained.

“For instance, educating community members about available aging services, enhancing cultural sensitivity within mainstream service providers for older adults, and supporting ethnic community-based organizations to serve as cultural liaisons with providers.

“And educating the next generation of health care providers to have a better cultural understanding of aging and caregiving from an Asian American perspective,” she added.

The project is working with a broad range of community and service organizations, including the Illinois Department on Aging, Chinese American Service League, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Metropolitan Asian Family Services and the South East Asia Center.

ASIAAN will develop culturally sensitive health literacy curricula for older Asian Americans and their caregivers, as well as an interactive map of age-related community resources, offered in several Asian languages.

Mirza said undergraduate students in a DHD course will create intergenerational social media resources about aging and age-related needs for Asian Americans to generate more awareness among communities and families.

Other faculty included on the grant include Kelly Hsieh, DHD research associate professor; Yochai Eisenberg, DHD assistant professor; Rooshey Hasnain, DHD clinical associate professor; and Jenica Lee, OT clinical associate professor.