Online Program

Stories of us - healing community across generations one story at a time

Monday, November 4, 2013

Social isolation increases risks for several physical and mental illnesses. Older adults are at higher risks for social isolation due to decreased mobility, social connections, and functional abilities. For refugee and immigrant elders with cultural and linguistic barriers, the risks multiply exponentially. A 2010 assessment of the Vietnamese-American community in Seattle revealed that elders feel socially isolated and disconnected from the younger generations. Studies have shown that inter-generational interventions increase social connections and promote healthy aging. Storytelling has been demonstrated to provide cognitive re-framing, giving meaning to life experiences, providing a sense of purpose, and shifting power from the researcher to the storyteller, particularly in cultures with oral traditions such as the Vietnamese culture. The Stories of Us project trains teams of Vietnamese-American youth to elicit life stories from elders in their community. The stories are recorded, translated, and submitted to the oral history exhibit at the Wing Luke Asian Pacific American Experience Museum. Qualitatively, elders who participate express deep appreciation for the chance to tell their stories and connect with the youth. The youth convey heightened awareness of and connection with their Vietnamese heritage, history, and culture. Participants will be assessed for health impact. Inter-generational storytelling is an inexpensive and promising intervention at the individual and community levels to improve inter-generational interactions, enhance social connections, and promote healthy aging for elders and healthy development for youngsters among this and other American populations, and in many global settings.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related nursing
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the health protective effects of positive social connections Discuss the use of inter-generational storytelling in promoting healthy aging Assess the application of this approach in other settings

Keyword(s): Vulnerable Populations, Minorities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a program manager of global health programs and a lecturer in community health, teaching students how to leverage community assets in program planning for maximum and lasting impact. I developed this project, trained the youth, and monitored project progress.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.