Adjustment problems among Korean elderly immigrants in New York and Los Angeles and effects of resources on psychological distress and status in the family
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This study has identified the adjustment problems experienced by the Korean elderly immigrants and examined the effects of various resources on psychological well-being and their status in the family, using an aggregated sample of 568 older Korean adults living in New York City and Los Angeles. The adjustment problems and difficulties experienced by the Korean elderly immigrants included language problems, transportation problems, loneliness, different life styles, and financial problems. Among them, the language problem was the biggest obstacle for the Korean elderly respondents to adjust themselves to the new culture. The findings suggested that the social networks and interactions among the Korean elderly were mostly limited to members of the Korean community, and their social and cultural activities also predominantly took place within the ethnic community. The effects of socio-demographic characteristics, physical health, and different types of resources on psychological distress and the status of the Korean elderly immigrants in the family have been evaluated using multiple regression analysis. The results of the analysis revealed that length of stay (β=-.282), physical health (β=.375), personal resources (β=-.242), and strategic resources (β=.351) were significantly correlated with the psychological distress level of the respondents. However, none of the indicators entered in the regression equation predicting psychological distress had significant effects on the status of the Korean elderly immigrants. Also, four different theoretical models (one deterring and three coping models) were tested to examine the role of different types of resources in the stress-distress process. Stress not only exerted a harmful direct effect (β=.230) on the psychological well-being of the respondents but also had the detrimental indirect effects on their mental health status through personal (β=.030) and relational (β=.019) resources. Although three interaction terms between stress and resources were added into the buffering model, none of them significantly affected the level of psychological distress.