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DATE: March 21, 2003

CASL will study aging Arabs, Chaldeans

DEARBORN---UM-Dearborn's College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters has received a $198,522 grant from the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) to conduct two research projects on elderly Arabs and Chaldeans in Wayne County.

The first project is a needs-assessment study to assess the services provided to the county's elderly. The second project will look to improve access and the quality of mental health and health support services.

Wong, Simowski and Wisler

"The overall goal of these projects will be to improve the quality of life for under served elderly populations," according to Paul Wong, CASL dean, who is the principal investigator of the projects.

"Mike Simowski, executive director of the Senior Alliance, and Susan Wisler in the Wayne County Office on Aging were instrumental in helping us to apply for and receive this grant," Wong said.

The Senior Alliance is a private non-profit agency designated as both an Area Agency on Aging and an Organized Health Care Delivery System to serve western and southern Wayne County.

The UM-Dearborn studies are responding to the changing senior citizen demographics in Wayne County, according to Wong. Wayne County gained nearly 3,000 older adults in the 1990s. Many of these immigrated to this area from the Middle East: more than 1,100 refugees over the age of 60 live in Wayne County, according to the Agency on Aging.

These elderly and their families may be unaware of, or unable to access basic community services due to language and other cultural barriers, according to the DAAA.

The UM-Dearborn study will focus on the needs of the Arab and Chaldean elderly for social and health services. It will be conducted through interviews with the elderly and the social workers and health services providers serving this population.
The findings will be used to make recommendations for more effective social and health services for the Arab and Chaldean elderly, according to Wong.

"These projects will help to improve the nutritional and health care status of underserved elderly populations, ensure that services are of high quality and more responsive to the needs of these populations, and help to reduce caregiver stress," he said.

A second project will focus on addressing the accuracy of the diagnostic screening tools currently used to identify mental health problems and dementia within the context of the Arabic culture. Commonly used instruments may not have been translated correctly or may not take into consideration patients' culture backgrounds.

Nancy Wrobel, associate professor of psychology, will lead the mental health study. Wrobel specializes in psychopathology in adults and children as well as assessment and diagnostic decisions.

The Detroit Area Agency on Aging (AAA 1-A) serves 70 percent of Michigan's minority elderly. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) is a private nonprofit agency that was established in 1980 to serve adults age 60 years and over in Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and the five Grosse Pointes.

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