Many "new Americans" that came to the United States as refugees, immigrants, and spouses of military personnel are now bringing their parents here to live. They come from many continents including Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Their health needs resemble those of older adults who have lived here for a lifetime and are compounded by language and cultural differences and by social losses due to relocation. They present a challenge to gerontological nursing not only in caring for their illnesses, but also in promoting their health.
An effective health promotion strategy is to encourage these newcomers into existing community groups of older adults. Nutrition centers, churches, and organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are among many groups that offer a potential for social contact with peers and a chance to make new friends outside of their families.
Nurses often serve as consultants to these groups and can suggest activities to allow participants to share their commonalities as well as their differences. Encouraging people to share food from their native countries can focus on various sources of needed nutrients as weJJ as highlight the pleasure of eating different foods. Appropriate exercise programs will bring laughter and relaxation that transcends ethnic differences. Sharing the music, dancing, and pictures of natural beauty from other lands can evoke happy memories that enhance life review and integration in later life.
Nurses have always been committed to the concept of caring. Today gerontological nurses have many opportunities to extend that concept into new populations. Health promotion activities are important for all persons. Encouraging older adults from other countries, who now reside here, to participate in health promotion activities enriches all of us and will hopefully lessen the impact of stress from relocation and loss of friends in their own age group.