Older migrants in exile: the past holding hands with the present – a qualitative study

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The population of ageing migrants and refugees in Europe is increasing in size. Health problems and poor health literacy that cause changes in functioning and life situation for ageing refugees and migrants may pose a huge challenge for European countries 1. Refugees generally have poor access to healthcare services due to language barriers, poor social networks and poor understanding of health and how the body works, often due to lack of educational opportunities 4.
Growing old in a foreign country lends itself to invisibility and conflict 6, and older migrants are challenged by a particular burden to their physical and mental health 7. Furthermore, inequalities in health are particularly prevalent among older people with an ethnic minority background 8.
Older migrants with language barriers typically suffer from more stress and poorer health than migrants who have mastered the local language 9. Living in‐between cultures with different languages, families, norms and values have shown to cause increased level of stress among Pakistani women living in Norway 10. Furthermore, older refugees may suffer from their past experiences of war and trauma. Studies of Holocaust survivors from the Second World War have shown that survivors of torture and war still displayed symptoms of post‐traumatic stress after 70 years, which consequently affected the ability to concentrate, understand and combine information, thus also impairing language acquisition 11.
There is a paucity of academic literature investigating the perceptions of older refugees from non‐European countries on how to handle ageing and health in everyday life while concurrently burdened by the traumas of war, loss and fear.
The aim of this study was to explore the conditions experienced by older migrants and their reasons for specific age‐ and health‐related behaviour during the conduct of everyday life.
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