2006 CUNY Conference on the
Well-Being of Asian American Senior Citizens
Friday, March 3, 2006
25 West 43rd Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10036
In attendance: Ibtihaj Arafat, Katy Cham, Zhao Chen, Jerry Cheng, Isabel Ching, An
Hoang, Rochelle Holland, Kenneth Lam, Glen Milstein, Nina Parikh, Susan Wong,
Ming-Chin Yeh, Thomas Tam, Luisa Wang, Antony Wong, Maggie Fung.
Conference Call: Betty Lee Sung
Dr. Thomas Tam welcomed the attendees to the planning meeting for the Conference on
the Well-Being of Asian American Senior Citizens. He introduced himself as well as
AAARI. The Conference is scheduled to take place on Friday, May 12th, 2006.
Each attendee introduced themselves; they are from service providers, government
funders, Medicare, urban planning and CUNY system: Prof. Ibtihaj Arafat from the City
College of New York; Mr. Jerry Cheng, President of the Organization of Chinese
Americans; Dr. Zhao Chen, Professor of Statistics, at New York City College of
Technology; Mr. Kenneth Lam from the Department for the Aging; Prof. Rochelle
Holland from Borough of Manhattan Community College; Ms. Susan Wong from Human
Resources Administration; Prof. Ming-Chin Yeh from Hunter College; Ms. Nina Parikh
from the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College; Ms. An Hoang and Ms. Isabel
Ching from the Hamilton Madison House Caregiver Service; Prof. Glen Milstein,
Psychology professor at CCNY; and Katy Cham from the Brooklyn Chinese-American
The purpose of the conference is to identify what the Asian American elderly community
needs and how Service providers, government funders and the CUNY system can bring
solutions to fulfill these needs. It is expected that collaboration would be established and
that it would continue after the Conference. Dr. Tam inquired the reasons attendees have
joined the planning meeting. Prof. Holland indicated the difficulty of some Asian
Americans to seek services due to language barriers. Prof. Arafat stated that she has
students doing research in a variety of topics. Ms. Hoang described seniors in their 70s
and 80s at the Hamilton Madison House, who live alone and are isolated. This
population does not have anyone to care for them and they are not qualified for
attendance care. Most of them are cognitively impaired. Therefore, it is difficult to make
conversations and to trust others. Many seniors do not know how to get home.
Depression, isolation, transportation difficulties are some of the issues facing senior
citizens. Access-A-Ride is one of the benefits that Asian American senior citizens may
not be able to obtain because of language barriers. Ms. Hoang stressed that senior
citizens face different difficulties depending on their level of age. She suggested
discussing problems at different categories or levels. Ms. Susan Wong emphasized that
solutions for the elderly to obtain Medicare as well as education about services should be
provided; it is necessary to have ways for seniors to assess things.
Dr. Tam reviewed the Tentative Program for the conference. Based on the topic that will
be discussed, there will be three different general sessions, lunch and break-out sessions.
Issues are discussed according to the community or social services perspective, the
academia as well as the government funding.
Ms. Parikh introduced the projects that are being developed at Hunter. She mentioned a
project involving the health status of seniors which is done in ten centers (two in each
borough). Therefore, there is a great variety of people that information can be retrieved
from. Ms. Parikh is uncertain whether data will be ready to be presented at the time of
the conference but maybe preliminary results can be shared. Other projects include the
smoking cessation plan which will focus on areas around Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and
Flushing. This project will address longitudinal assessment on smoking patterns. In
addition, Chinese American studies are being performed in regard of these projects.
Prof. Milstein emphasized health care as his area of study. He mentioned cultural
influences as factors affecting pedestrians’ involvement in accidents. Prof. Milstein
suggested creating a link between accidents and senior citizens’ well-being. He stressed
that it would be beneficial to trace back to the reason why elder citizens would
experience certain things, what is the cause of them getting into traffic accidents, is it
depression? There are multiple factors to why accidents can develop.
Dr. Tam indicated the potential to have faculty and students’ involvement for research
and intervention programs.
Ms. Cham explained the Brooklyn situation and stated that more Asian elderly are
moving in because of their younger family members. Elder citizens tend to take care of
their grandchildren and they do not have anything else to do when their grandchildren are
not around. Therefore, they prefer to go to multi-services centers to enjoy themselves.
Traffic accidents are frequent in areas such as Benson Hurst, Bay Ridge, and 8th Avenue,
not only in Chinatown, Manhattan.
Prof. Chen identified two issues: 1) Senior citizens’ health care; 2) Senior Citizen
Centers are overcrowded. He stressed the value of Medicare for immigrants and families
that need to support older relatives. Prof. Chen wished to help Asian Americans to pay
for the needs of their seniors. He suggested that why people can’t obtain Medicare be
Ms. Ching agreed that more programs need to be built but it may not be possible due to
financial difficulties. She pointed out that many service providers have been serving over
their capacities for seven years. Ms. Wong stressed the necessity to obtain funding. Mr.
Lam stated that the commissioner has been developing many programs in order to assist
the elderly community. The Department for the Aging funds a variety of groups and is
working with limited resources. It is necessary to make programs effective and that
different needs exists among groups like Koreans, Japanese and Chinese. E.g. The
Japanese population is more in need of information, to know where to access certain
programs and services. Koreans need to be able to obtain the basic resources. There are
projects in regard of language barriers and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Cheng stated that the Transportation Division often works on pedestrian issues.
Statistics can be put together based on the access of data involving accidents. Pedestrians
can be identified by going to the police precinct. However, this research requires a lot of
time and would require a research assistant. Ms. Ching mentioned that the Borough
President Council has created studies about traffic lights at Washington Heights; it would
be beneficial to find out information from other previous research.
Dr. Tam raised the issue of pedestrian safety based on the reports of Singtao Daily News;
135 cases of traffic accidents occurred in Chinatown last year involving six fatalities. Is
the number significant compared to others? Dr. Tam welcomed statisticians to come up
with information that would assist in the answering of these questions. The general
session in the program will provide an overall discussion of the situation about
pedestrian’s safety. Dr. Tam inquired on ways that the academia (students, faculties
involved in health education) helps deal with problems. Prof. Milstein expressed the
concern that issues about traffic accidents and health care (Medicare) do not connect. He
stated that six deaths compared to over a thousand of meals being served are
incomparable. Ms. Wong pointed out the necessity to compare the statistics with other
communities besides Chinatown. Dr. Tam stated that most traffic accidents occur only
on a few streets such as Bowery, Canal, and East Broadway; there may be some possible
correlation that needs to be examined. He suggested the discussion to focus on two
tracks: 1) General situation of Senior Citizens 2) Particular issue of traffic accidents.
AAARI will require assistance from the Department of Transportation in order to find out
facts and data. Ms. Ching emphasized depression, and educational resources as
important issues to be focused on. Many people are not too familiar with traffic rules;
they should be educated with information about it.
The next planning meeting has been scheduled for Friday, March 31, 2006, from 4:00
PM to 6:00 PM. Comments and suggestions should be sent to Dr. Tam by email at: