Culturally Appropriate Care Planning for Vietnamese Culture
The origins of Vietnam can be traced back over 5,000 years. Originally a tribe living in "Giao Chi,” Vietnam was divided into Cochin China (South Vietnam), Tonkin (North Vietnam), and Annam (Central Vietnam). Vietnam's history is characterized by several dynasties and the geographic movement of imperial power throughout the North and South.
However, the ability of Vietnamese FCGs to provide care in accordance with these known traditions is at risk due to the changing social and cultural milieu in which they find themselves in Canada. The ability to sustain the traditional culture of care has changed immensely, as Vietnamese families adapt and assimilate into Canadian society. For example, expectations to acquire an education, the need for both spouses to work to provide the necessities of life, combined with the desire by younger or Canadian‐born children to have greater autonomy, have reduced the willingness and availability of families to provide care, as is still expected in Vietnam. Older FCGs may not experience the loss of tradition to the same extent as younger generations who may be under more pressure to seek outside help to manage their responsibilities. Such circumstances put adult‐children caregivers in conflict with the expectations of aged and ill parents and with what is possible within Canadian society.
In Vietnam, people often consult one or more traditional practitioners to alleviate illness. Traditional practitioners include spiritual healers, physicians who employ herbal medication and acupuncture, informal folk healers who use natural and pragmatic approaches such as special herbs and diets, and magicians or sorcerers (Nowak, 1998). In the United States, Vietnamese may use a combination of traditional and Western health care practices. Some Vietnamese, especially new arrivals, may treat illness with self-care, self-medication, and herbal medicines. Some may choose traditional and natural remedies because of affordability and seek Western health care services only if traditional methods fail (Healy, 1997; LaBorde, 1996; Nowak, 1998, 2005). Other research has shown that the use of traditional methods could also be associated with living in rural areas prior to immigration rather than length of time in the United States.
In the final analysis, the experience of care-giving within a Vietnamese cultural tradition can impact FCGs’ overall mental and physical health. The intensity of care, as a function of cultural traditions and the limited receipt of formal services, illustrates that there is currently a high degree of burden among these caregivers, and that this ‘group’ is at risk, in general, for increased burden, resulting in negative impacts on the physical, emotional, social and financial well-being. As with other cultures, women are at particular risk, given the gendered expectations to care and limited social networks of support.
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