Comparison of How Western and Eastern Cultures Care for their Elderly

Comparison of How Western and Eastern Cultures Care for their Elderly


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Introduction to the five stages of life: Human greed for a longer happier life has always been there and as per the human nature will also remain - Comparison of How Western and Eastern Cultures Care for their Elderly introduction. The childhood, the teenage, the youth, the middle age and last the old age. As the age progresses you start to miss on the previous stage of your life and upon comparison with the life/ stage that you are presently in will always be seeing saying that the earlier life was far better than the present life. Do you know why it is so? Just because we are thankless brats and are never ready to be contented with what we have been blessed with, instead are after what we don’t have or what is missing materialistically. But those people who have stood to the test of time are respected for their age and also considered to be a reliable source for good advice.


Irrespective of what culture, caste, color you belong to when you give birth to a child, you put in every effort to keep your child in the best of health and also look after all the needs. Have you ever thought why do we do that? Is there any clues? No, I guess! Once that child starts to crawl we feel good and then some day that child utters the first word from his/her mouth, we start to at least tell the maternal/paternal grand parents about that. Then starts the schooling period and once again you want your child to go to the best of the best school in town and the best education available. Why? Just because in the later on life he/she should be a good law abiding citizen and should not be an abuse to your culture rather be a blessing. (Bengtson et al, 2000)

After schooling their high school will start and once again the parents of the eastern culture would be seen running about for the admissions of their beloved children try to get them once again into the best college in the city, once again with the same hope that these children will turn out to be a good citizen and a help to their culture. But at the back of the mind of these parent’s lays a selfish thought and that is when they themselves will grow old these children will look after them and care for them for they will be weak and much to old to work for their own bread and butter (this is where these eastern culture people are wrong). (Liu and Kendig, 2000)

Bitter Realities:

But, the dream of having a long happy life will fall apart the day your child tells you that he/she is leaving this old house for he/she dose not feel comfortable calling their friends here. Or if you marry them they will start with the excuse that his mother’s behavior towards her daughter in law is not good and that they are often quarreling over petty issues in the house, so they are moving out. At that point in time the eastern culture is like a curse, for all your future plans scattered and you are absolutely helpless standing in the no man’s land. Here is when you start comparing the western culture and praise it, though not knowing the negative or the dark side of that culture. You pamper the child all his/her life and this is how you are paid off. (Bengtson et al, 2000)

Those Who Learn and Enjoy:

This is not the case with 100% people of the eastern culture, there are families who are living in joint system, that is the grand parents role and even the grand children can not deviate from the rules set by them, yes a door for amendments in these rules are always open keeping in mind that moral of their family is not let down at any cost. So, even today there are families who are living hands and hands for three to four generations and they are proud to be united rather than being scattered. They say their strength lies in their unity! (Liu and Kendig, 2000)

General Look at Western Culture:

On the contrary the western culture has given birth to a brand new terminology and that is

Single mother, for their culture and society it is OK.  But if you talk of this idea in your culture, this would be equal to a big time sin. Fine the child is given birth, but the single mother does not have to worry about bringing up that child, for the health/ medication and even the education is free. Equally when this child attains the teenage and tell his/her mother that they are moving out they are normally not even asked so as to where and with whom? A big time difference exists between the two cultures. (Daniel, 2000)

In the eastern culture, the mother has to make sure that the baby girl given birth maintains

her virginity till she gets married, while in the western culture both the parent feel proud if their daughter  is going out with her boy friend and even have had sex with him and when she returns home she is asked if she had good time. It’s all OK for them for it’s a part of their so called broad minded society. On the other hand, they call the eastern cultured people as backward narrow minded people who don’t even understand the simple meaning of the word liberalism. In the western culture the parent themselves are so materialistic that they are not ready to allow their children to relay 100% on them infect they are suppose to try and earn their own bread and butter on as soon as possible basis. (Liu and Kendig, 2000)

            When the child receives this type or kind of attention, in return the so called parents are often seen in the old age houses living without seeing their once loved ones, not even knowing their own grand children or for that matter not even having seen them but just became a lack of productivity if looked on economically. These elderly people are mostly on pension, which on their own are becoming day to day threat the company’s viability. Identically the society of theirs in which they moved throughout their lives does not seem to have meaning for their lives instead are considered as threat and a burden. Though in the eastern culture, the elderly people are seen as wise men, who could pass on wisdom and also hand over their experiences to the new up-coming generation for their betterment and prosperity. (Bengtson et al, 2000)

Some More Bitter Realities of Western Culture:

            Illegal sexual relation, which is the prime reason for condemning of any law but in the western culture this is a general practice, if a girl gets married and the husband finds out that his wife is a virgin he feel that the girl is from a very conservative kind of a family, for in their society the father could have sex with his daughter. This really is too much? Now again just for the sake of it if the parents of a young man in the western culture approach him and ask for some kind of a financial assistance from him, the selfishness that he carries and that he has inherited from the culture that he has been brought up in will speak for itself. In on or about 80 to 85% cases these children will advise them to go and ask for help from the government agencies and they will look after your problems for he/she would have yet another excuse by saying that he/she is very tide up and is having a tough time meeting and keeping up with their own expenses. (Lechner and Neal, 2000)

            But, on the other hand are the parents of an eastern culture’s young men or young women are approached with their problem, it becomes their duty to listen and try to resolve their problem. Normally in the eastern culture the parents call upon their married children when their younger brothers or sisters are about to get married and these old parents have to arrange for their dowry. If and should one of the parent’s get hospitalized then again it becomes the prime responsibility to look after them in shape of financial support, in shape of the bills clearance, the medications and so on. This is normally not on in the western culture and they would refer these old people to the old age house or the insurance companies would be looking after their medications etc. (Bengtson et al, 2000)

            The issues discussed here above in the eastern culture can and will not be experienced in the western culture just because of the generation gape that is and will always be there in their liberal cultural society as they call it.  Further if you look at the humanitarian ground side of what the responsibilities are of a good society towards its people you will realize that most of them are over looked by the westerns while the easterns take their society and culture a bit too seriously as the western take it lightly. Not realizing what these westerns are getting into, they seem to have legalized this new guy culture in their society, which in the eastern culture is a punishable act (specially in the central and south’s Asian countries)

Glance at Root Causes for Ageing:

Ignoring the two different cultures and trying to dig out the root causes for ageing following would be found common factors in any culture in any race or group of people:

Financial insecurity
Emotionally speaking their feeling of loneliness.
On top of that they start to develop a feeling of being a burden to the people.
When you retire around the age of 60 years, you posses the strength to work and look after your day to day affaires.
Increased need to be looked after would arise once you attain the age of around 80 years.
After that come the time when you want to be looked after for almost everything like a small child would need in the infant age.

What we conclude from the comparison of two cultures is that we should try and improve ourselves and our approach towards our elders. We must not let them feel lonely. If and should they feel themselves to be a burden upon us or for that matter on the society, they should be made to realize that the society is what they want it to be. We must take their concern as and when needed making them and giving the deserved importance. They should be told again and again time after time that their wisdom for us is very valuable; we need them to guide us through the tough parts of life. Make them realize that what they are today, we will be tomorrow and set example for our young ones to pay respect to their elders and look after their needs before its too late. Their guidance and wisdom can only be used if they maintain good mental and physical health by taking good care of themselves. The elders too have responsibility and that is they should try and make their home learning place for solidarity among generations. I most definitely wouldn’t want the west as a cultural model for the whole of the world, infect people of all parts of the world should live as per their customs and its values.


Daniel A. Bell, (2000), East Meets West, Princeton University Press, William Street, Princeton New Jersey USA

Viola M. Lechner, Margaret B. Neal. (1999), Work and Caring for the Elderly, Routledge

Vern L. Bengtson, Kyong-Dong Kim, George C. Myers, Ki-Soo Eun, (2000), Aging in East and West.  Springer Publishing Company

William T. Liu, Hal Kendig. (2000), Who Should Care For the Elderly? World Science Publication


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