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

I don’t want to leave my parents in Hong Kong, so I decided to emigrate overseas with them. How can I help them adapt to the new life?

In recent years, many Hong Kong citizens have chosen to emigrate overseas and start a new life in a completely new environment. Some families have even decided to bring their elderly relatives with them and emigrate as a family in order to take care of them more conveniently.

For the elderly, their original place of residence is like their "root," and emigration is like uprooting from their original life and starting everything anew, requiring them to adapt to a completely new life and face huge changes in all aspects.

If the new place of residence after emigrating has a completely different environment and language, and there are no familiar relatives or friends, the elderly would need to have a strong adaptability.

Faced with the challenges of emigration, many elderly people will feel worried and anxious about the major changes they are about to face. Facing such challenges of emigration can easily create stress and affect the relationship between family members, and even family harmony.

Therefore, it is essential to communicate clearly with the elderly before emigrating. Young people should try to understand the perspective of the elderly and let them understand the new life in all aspects to reduce their anxiety and understand their thoughts. For example, let the elderly know the following:

  • Where are you immigrating to? What facilities are nearby? It is recommended to understand the public security and various living facilities, such as supermarkets, banks, parks, churches, etc. before emmigrating.
  • Is transportation convenient? Taking the UK as an example, due to its vast territory, it is recommended to drive yourself unless you are in a large city. If you do not know how to drive and there is no public transportation available, they may feel socially isolated.
  • What is the local language, culture and environment like? If the elderly do not understand the local language, they will feel very lonely. You can look for nearby Chinese communities, groups, relatives, or assist the elderly in joining local or Hong Kong immigrant community groups before departure. Leaving their comfort zone without a group of friends around can be difficult, so helping the elderly enter new circles and make new friends after emmigrating can help them adapt to local life more quickly.
  • What are the medical arrangements? If the elderly need to take medication for a long time, it is recommended to prepare 3 to 6 months of medication to bring to the destination. It is also recommended to ask the doctor or hospital for detailed medical reports before departure, such as chronic illnesses, and medication or treatment used, to facilitate the connection with local medical institutions. Some places also require the purchase of medical insurance in advance.
  • What can the elderly do after emmigration? After emmigration, the daily routine and pace of life will be completely different, so it is recommended to plan a daily schedule and set some goals for each month.
  • There also needs to be an adjustment in mindset. The elderly may have lived in Hong Kong for many years, and it is recommended to maintain an open and optimistic attitude and avoid comparing the new life after immigration with the old life in Hong Kong, as a certain period of adaptation is needed for the new life.
  • Some elderly may worry about losing contact with relatives and friends in Hong Kong after emmigration. You can purchase electronic communication equipment, such as a tablet, for the elderly to bring them closer to their family members in other regions, and patiently guide them on how to use it, so that the elderly do not have to worry about difficulty in contacting their original family and friends after emmigration, reducing their sense of loneliness.

There is also a lot of information available online now that can be shown to the elderly in advance. For example, you can follow pages that provide relevant information, and refer to the immigration experiences shared by others, allowing the elderly to understand the situation in advance, strengthen their social network, and adapt to their new life after immigration as early as possible.

If there are relatives in the destination, it is even better to arrange a video call in advance to explain the local situation. In general, it is important to be as specific as possible and let the elderly grasp the actual situation, so a flexible time plan is needed.

Compared to emmigrating alone, emmigrating as a family requires greater responsibility to be taken into consideration. In addition to financial budgeting, it is more important to have sufficient psychological preparation to overcome these challenges together. Therefore, in addition to the preparation as mentioned above, remember to maintain close communication with family members and the elderly, share thoughts and feelings with each other in an open and honest manner, and plan for the new life with an optimistic and positive attitude, trying to ensure that everyone's goals and expectations are consistent.

Everyone adapts at their own pace, so it is important to accept and respect each other's rhythms, jointly assume the direction chosen together, and support and encourage each other along the way, being tolerant and understanding when challenges arise. Only then can one face challenges with ease.

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