Family Relationships and Depression Among Elderly Korean Immigrants

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Young-Me Lee, PhD, RN
Elizabeth Florez, MS, RN
School of Nursing, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Learning Objective 1: To gain a comprehensive understanding of traditional Korean family values experienced by elderly Korean immigrants while living in the United States.

Learning Objective 2: To uncover the challenges that elderly Korean immigrants perceived in family relationships and family support and the association with depression.

Purpose: The Purpose of the stidy was to describe family relationships within the context of living arrangements (living with adult children or without adult children) and support network, and to further determine associations of these factors to depression in elderly Korean immigrants

Methods: This study utilized a descriptive comparative research design to explore family relationships associated with living arrangements and support network, in addition to the relationships between these family factors and depression. Comparisons were made between those elderly living with adult children and those not. 

Results: Over 70% (N=160) of Korean elders were found to live apart from their adult children. However, Korean elders who were living independently reported higher levels of depression in spite of their expressed desire to live independently and to be less dependent upon their adult children. The values of independence and self-reliance widely embraced by the dominant United States culture appeared to be accepted by Korean elders and may be a cause of major life changes.

Conclusion: A desire for separate households and less dependence on their adult children could be seen as mechanisms of survival in the USA that Korean elders have learned. However, these finding suggest that family support and close relationships with family members still play a very important role in dealing with stressors and in preventing and/or lessening depression.