Elderly Immigrants in U.S. Isolated – or are they?

I just read this article about immigrant elders here in the U.S. and how they feel really displaced and isolated in a country where they don’t speak the language, have to live in very different conditions than in their native countries and live largely untracked lives. As the article mentions, “nobody worries about Americans losing jobs to Korean grandmothers.”

One of the things that caught my eye the most, however, is that some immigrant elders are forming their own social support groups to have people to talk to and connect with. This made me think of when I was at McDonald’s the other month on a Wednesday morning, and there was a group of old European guys sitting around, having coffee and chatting away. I’m guessing many people have probably noticed that old people tend to congregate in fast food places like this pretty regularly. I thought it was cute until my brother pointed out that they’re probably at McDonald’s because they live on fixed incomes and can’t afford to go anywhere else.

Regardless, this caught my attention because I’m really interested not only in online social networks like Facebook, but also all the offline social networks that exist out there. Imagine the social networks that exist of older men and women who have found companions in fellow immigrants from their native countries. Another example – there’s a spot in Lincoln Square, a little cafe-looking place, where old Greek men congregate and socialize in the mornings. It’s interesting to see such a literal representation of a social network among a group that is the furthest demographic from typical online social networkers.

Where else do you see these types of elderly immigrants meeting in groups? I’m curious to hear where you’ve spotted them.

What other types of social networks can you think of?

There’s no doubt that living in a foreign country for elderly immigrants is a harsh reality, but I think it’s interesting how social networking old-school style is helping them connect with one another.

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