A stress coping model for older Koreans
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Social work professionals have been concerned about the mental health and psychological well-being of older persons, as well as elders’ need for and utilization of mental health service. However, little research on the health and behavior of minority older adults has been conducted. Furthermore, the mental health knowledge about older Koreans and older Korean Americans is almost non-existing in empirical research of social work field. Therefore, there is a need for a greater integration of racial and ethnic perspectives and cross-cultural consideration in research on aging and mental health. The present study has a unique aim to contribute to cross-cultural research and practice on aging and mental health by comparing two groups of older Koreans; those living in Korea and those living in the United States. The purposes of this study were 1) to examine Korean older adults’ unique physical and mental health status; 2) to address Korean religious and cultural issues in providing comprehensive models of care; 3) to suggest the availability and use of medical, social, and economic resources by Korean older adults. The results of the present study supported existing substantial research examined the relationship between older adults’ depressive symptoms and their poor health and functional disabilities. This study’s results also verified research that demonstrated positive mental health benefits accruing from religious practice for older Korean-American immigrants, and the importance of social support was also confirmed for both samples. This study results demonstrate the need for more attention by researchers to the particular mental health problems of both older Koreans. This study provides a rationale for developing empirical-based social work interventions that can be used with Korean older adults living in Korea and in the United States.