LEFT BEHIND MALAYSIAN AGED PARENTS AND THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH ADULT CHILDREN’S MIGRATION
Received 2019-02-11; Accepted 2019-11-12; Published 2020-04-17
Keywords:Filial Piety, Malaysia, Migration, Left-behind Parents, Social Support For Older Persons
Migration is a widespread phenomenon throughout the world and it has been under way since time immemorial. While studies have focused on the causes of migration and the impact of migrants, studies focusing on the emotional experience of the left-behind older persons’ adjustments in their twilight years after the departure of their adult children, are few and far between. Thus, the perspectives of these left-behind older parents/ persons are less understood. This paper aims to contribute to the literature by addressing the gap which will be filled through the experiences of left-behind Malaysian older persons. Drawing on in-depth interviews extracted from a qualitative study that focused on the strength of long-term marriages among Malaysian Chinese couples, this paper captures four older couples’ experiences that depict their feelings about their adult children’s migration. Analysis suggests that the children’s migration was induced by a lack of support and resources, followed by unequal educational opportunities. To deal with the gap left by their children, these older urban parents depend on kinship connection and community support in times of need. Government initiatives may also be able to empower the community in innovating and implementing plans which are tailored to the needs of the older parents left behind by children who have migrated. The living arrangements and recent bereavement experiences captured from the older couples can serve as cues for healthcare professionals and social support providers to assess the risks of social isolation and suicide among these left-behind older parents.
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