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Do low L2 abilities impede healthy aging for migrant older adults in the Netherlands?

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Abstract

Research towards aging of migrant populations has so far mostly focused on (bio)medical and psychological aspects. Here we explore to what extent second language ability is a factor influencing the healthy aging process of older Turkish migrants in the Netherlands. To get a first understanding of the linguistic situation of older migrants within this setting, interviews with ten healthcare consultants with insight into their local Turkish community were conducted, forming a ‘needs-analysis’ of this group. It emerged that older migrants rely heavily on their ethnically close-knit networks for information and care. In communicating their healthcare needs to others outside the family, the older migrants experience language barriers, directly resulting from low L2 proficiency and L2 anxiety. These barriers prevent access to health information and induce dependence. This initial exploration of the interplay between language and aging in a migrant population can be used as input into more advanced, empirical investigations.
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Keywords: healthcare consultants; healthy aging; migrants; needs-analysis; older adults; second language ability; second language environment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 10, 2018

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