Chapter 4: Family Dynamics – Working with Seniors

Problem Solving Through Case Studies

Directions: Read each case study and answer the questions.

Note: These case studies are all fictitious but are based on scenarios you may encounter in the settlement field.

Case Study 1: Awek’s Health Dilemma

Awek is a newcomer to Red Deer and has moved in with her oldest daughter and her family. She arrived from South Sudan in August. She has experienced some arthritis in her knee since arriving in Canada. Her family’s current healthcare situation does not cover physiotherapy, and Awek is afraid that she will become more ill without getting to see a specialist. Because she is elderly, she cannot work a standard job to pay for her own benefits. Awek has been using traditional naturopathic herbal remedies and refuses to go to the refugee health centre for a referral because she cannot afford the treatment.

Case Study 2: Adult Child and Elder Parent Conflict


Three years ago, a young couple with three small children sponsored their elderly mother from Kenya to come live with them. They live in a suburban community in Calgary. The relationship is mutually beneficial because the mother is able to live with the couple and all of her medical, living, and food expenses are paid for by her adult children. The daughter-in-law was recently laid off from work. Since she arrived, the grandmother has been taking care of the children before and after school. Conflict has arisen because the grandmother wants to raise her grandchildren in a traditional manner. The daughter-in-law, however, wants to raise the children based on Canadian culture and expectations and wants the grandmother to leave the parenting to the parents. The daughter-in-law has said in anger that since she is now without a job, the grandmother should return to the home country because they no longer need her to look after the children. The grandmother is feeling anxious.

Case Study 3: Isolation

An elderly father arrived from China three weeks ago and is now living in Fort McMurray with his only son. The immigrant senior is a widower and is concerned that his son is not yet married. The son often works long hours and is away most of the work week. The son sometimes stays on the job site over the weekend during the winter months because travel is not always easy at that time. The father has been feeling isolated. The senior was an avid musician in his country of origin and speaks three languages. The father is looking for opportunities to mentor young people in his ethnocultural community.

Case Study 4: Grandparent Challenges

You are meeting with an elderly Filipino woman and her granddaughter. The older woman has asked her granddaughter to leave the house because the granddaughter was caught drinking. The grandmother got upset and said that alcohol is a drug because it is addictive. The grandmother is deeply religious. She has expressed anxiety because the granddaughter brings strange people to the house, and sometimes they stay the night. The grandmother feels that this behaviour is shameful and does not want to go out to cultural events in the Filipino community.

Case Study 5: Trauma and Resettlement

An elderly couple has emigrated from Syria to Edmonton. They are experiencing post-traumatic stress, and the husband recently suffered a mild stroke. They are also experiencing culture shock and anxiety. They are not accustomed to the healthcare system and miss their community of friends. They are having difficulty getting used to the weather, food, and public transportation.


Image Credits (images listed in order of appearance)

Old woman closing her eyes by Danie Franco, Unsplash licence

Focus on the Elderly: The World Assembly on Aging – An elderly woman of Kisumu, Kenya by United Nations Photo, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Generic licence

Playing a memory by Clay Banks, Unsplash licence

Older woman by Noah Blaine Clark, Unsplash licence

[A Pakistani man and his wife in Syria under blockade] by Middle East Monitor, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International licence


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Canadian Settlement in Action: History and Future Copyright © 2021 by NorQuest College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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