Last week the Chicago Bridge, in collaboration with Rush University and the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois, hosted a panel discussion on Older Adults & Immigration. The panel participants, Padraic Stanley, MSW of Rush University’s Heath & Aging Department, Yadira Montoya, MSPH of Rush University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Adela Carlin, J.D. of the Legal Assistance Foundation, presented a wealth of information regarding the aging immigrant population in Chicago and across the nation, tips for the clinical practice and wonderful stories about the resiliency of undocumented immigrants who despite contributing to the American economy are often, if not always, locked out of essential services.
- 20% of Chicago’s population was born outside of the United States
- 172,000 Older Adults in Illinois speak limited English
- 40,000 Mexican heritage
- 21,000 Polish heritage
- 11,000 Puerto Rican heritage
- 9,000 Chinese heritage
- 91,000 Mix of other nationalities and cultures all at least with 1,000 or more older adults
- Non-English speaking elderly are 2x more likely to live in poverty
- There are roughly 511,000 undocumented immigrants in Chicago
- Roughly $14 billion in taxes are filed by those who do not have Social Security numbers — this amount has been attributed to the contributions of undocumented immigrants through the use of a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN
- 50%-60% of those left uninsured after the passage of the Affordable Care Act are undocumented immigrants
Tips for Clinical Practice
- Know when you need to know immigration status & when you do not. Is there is a funding source that requires this information?
- Ask what the client’s preferred language ?
- Why did the client move to the United States? Were they coming to meet family? For work? Fleeing violence? Knowing this can give you an idea of what background/perspective they may be coming from.
- If not familiar with a culture or nationality seek out experts that can connect you with resources or groups that may serve as a support for the client. Seek out historical information about that culture and their movement into the U.S.
- Find out how the client is surviving? Do they have family or community support ? What are their resiliency factors?
LEP Older Adults Metropolitan Chicago Report (PDF)