HKFWS is always committed to promoting “Ageing in Place” and release new service initiatives. To support the elderly and their family members to live in a familiar place, our professional team shares some useful information and suggestions here to address the elders’ physical and psychological needs.

Elderly’s Children Emigration

After emigration, my elderly parents who remain behind are worried about losing companionship and support, while I am also concerned about the question of "who will take care of their affairs in their final years whe their children are not around.” As their son or daughter, what should I do?

Although illnesses and deaths are taboos in the Chinese society,  they are actually issuesthat the elderly care about the most.

Especially for those who are getting older or have serious illnesses, if they can arrange their end-of-life and post-death matters well in advance, they can reduce their regrets and the pressure on their families.

We recommend that you discuss and formulate "advance care plan" (ACP) with the elderly as early as possible before immigrating. Advance care planning is an overarching and preceding communication process for adults with mental capacity to give prior expression of preferences for medical and personal care to family member and/ or medical professional when he/she can no longer make a decision. Elders may assign a surrogate to execute his/her preference.

The content of ACP may include preferences for medical care, property arrangement, funeral preference, organ donation and farewell with relatives and friends, etc. ACP placed emphasis on autonomy and communication, hence, review may be made according to changes of the elder’s physical condition and situation.

There are many issues worth discussing: if the health of your elderly parents deteriorates, will they stay in the community or move to a nursing home? If they are terminally ill, will they accept life- sustaining treatment? Will they make a will to allocate the relevant estates? How will their funeral be arranged? If there is enough time, does he/she have any wishes, such as traveling to a place they have been longing to visit or saying goodbye to relatives and friends?

These are just some of the issues worth discussing. In fact, every elderly person values these end-of-life matters and has their own preferences. When there are unexpected things to anticipate, anxiety arises. Planning in advance could reduce their anxiety.  Even if you are not emigrating, you can still discuss with your elderly parents on their “advance care plan”. 

If the primary caregiver emigrates, the caregiving responbilities may be shared among siblings. If there is an emergency situation and you are in distant places, discussing such decisions may be difficult and may even lead to misunderstanding and conflicts. On the contrary, prior communication and arrangement before emigration can make the elderly and their families feel more at ease and reduce their regrets and pressures.

Source: Ms. Yip, Elderly Services Social Worker, Hong Kong Family Welfare Society