Choosing the right senior care option can be challenging for any family. But, it becomes even more difficult if you’re seeking a facility that caters to those who speak in a language other than English. Fortunately, language-specific senior living communities, also called affinity group communities, can help older adults overcome language barriers. Some senior living communities in America cater to Chinese seniors by offering familiar cuisine and cultural activities and by employing bilingual staff.
Below, we’ll explore the benefits of Chinese-speaking senior living communities and tips for finding a facility near you.
What Is Chinese-Speaking Senior Living?
While many Chinese families choose to take care of their elders at home, there are plenty of circumstances when that is neither possible nor practical. In fact, the number of Asian senior living facilities is actually increasing because of a growing need for them. For those in the Asian culture, a Chinese-speaking senior living facility not only adheres to their values, but also speaks their language. This can become crucial when you are talking about health-related issues.
In addition to addressing health care needs, Chinese-speaking senior living facilities also focus on cultural care as well. Whether it’s how the building is designed, to activities offered, to even the menus, Chinese culture remains front and center.
Common features of Chinese senior living communities include:
- 24/7 staff who speak multiple Chinese dialects
- Feng shui architecture and design
- Traditional decor
- Tea rooms
- Gardens for relaxation
- Tai chi, calligraphy, and mahjong
- Worship services and Bible studies in Chinese
- Authentic Chinese or Asian cuisine
FYI: Seniors require different levels of care. Check out our Senior living spectrum interactive graphic to learn more about the different types.
Benefits of Chinese-Speaking Senior Living
Along with the many perks of senior living in general, moving into a Chinese-speaking senior living facility comes with added benefits.
Being understood and understanding those around you
An estimated 43 percent of Chinese adults in the U.S. have limited proficiency in English.1 For these adults, a Chinese-speaking senior living facility could very well be a lifesaver. Bilingual or multilingual staff members can effectively communicate with them in the language they’re most comfortable speaking, whether that’s Cantonese, Mandarin, or another Chinese dialect. Families can feel assured that their loved one can properly express themselves, understand their medical care, and advocate for themselves without any language barriers.
Many Chinese-speaking senior living communities celebrate Chinese traditions, holidays, and cultural activities. This can include playing mahjong, doing tai chi, watching Chinese TV programs, and ringing in the Chinese New Year alongside others who grew up with similar cultural backgrounds.
Eating familiar cuisine
Food is an important part of Chinese culture. While menus will vary from place to place, Chinese-speaking senior living facilities offer residents an array of Chinese dishes. Eating familiar food can help people feel more connected to their culture and their families.
Making friends is easier
Poor social relationships and loneliness are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety.2 Living amongst peers who speak the same language and share a similar upbringing can help you develop strong social relationships. You won’t need to wonder if anyone else will understand your language or cultural traditions. Instead, you’ll know that you’re moving into a place with those who are similar to you.
How Much Does Chinese-Speaking Senior Living Cost?
As with any senior living option, the type of facility and necessary care will determine the cost, not the language spoken. Some Chinese-speaking senior living communities offer different levels of care, from assisted living to memory care to short-term care all on the same campus. The types of amenities offered also play a key role in the cost.
Generally, you can expect to pay more as your care needs increase. Let’s take a look at national costs by care type.3
|Facility type||2021 national monthly median cost||2021 national yearly median cost|
|Nursing home (Semiprivate Room)||$7,908||$94,900|
|Nursing home (private room)||$9,034||$108,405|
Paying for Chinese-Speaking Senior Living
You can use a variety of methods to pay for Chinese-speaking senior living expenses, including:
- Medicare: Some skilled nursing facilities will accept Medicare, but you likely can’t use Medicare to pay for assisted living or long-term care facilities.
- Medicaid: Medicaid coverage varies state to state, so check your state’s policy to see what benefits are available for memory care, assisted living, or skilled nursing facilities.
- Veteran’s benefits: Veterans and their spouses may be able to use VA benefits for certain senior living care. Check your specific benefit plan to see what services are covered.
- Long-Term Care Insurance (LTC): The benefits and cost of LTC insurance policies varies. However, these plans often cover services and senior living communities that Medicare or other benefits do not cover.
- Out of pocket: Paying for senior living out of pocket can get expensive, but sometimes it's your only option. Some seniors sell their homes, cash in life insurance policies, or use savings, retirement income, or family contributions to pay for care.
Helpful Hint: Not sure how you’ll afford senior living? It’s possible you won’t have to pay anything! Visit our guide on paying for senior living with no money.
Tips for Finding a Chinese-Speaking Assisted Living or Other Facility
While Chinese-speaking senior living communities are becoming more common in America, they’re still difficult to find. Start your search by talking to family and friends. Ask what senior living options they considered for their aging Chinese relatives. If that doesn’t lead anywhere, try out our other tips that can make locating a Chinese nursing home or Asian assisted living facility a little easier.
Search for Chinese Senior Living Online
A quick Google search can help you find Chinese-speaking senior communities. Try out some of these suggested searches:
- Chinese retirement communities in the United States
- Chinese assisted living near me
- Chinese-speaking nursing home in ‘town name, state’
- Chinese memory care
- Asian nursing home near me
- Asian retirement communities nearby
It’s also helpful to search in cities that have a large Chinese population.
Contact Your Local Area On Aging
Your local Area Agency on Aging office is a great resource for finding any type of senior service. Area Agencies on Aging offer information and referral services, which means they may be able to refer you to Chinese-speaking senior living facilities. Visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s website to search for your local agency by city, state, or ZIP code.
Reach Out to Other Chinese Senior Care Organizations
If you’re struggling to find senior living facilities on your own, turn to other Chinese senior care organizations for help. Local Chinese-speaking senior centers, advocacy groups, or nonprofits may be able to help you find the right senior living community for your loved one. Here are a few examples of Chinese senior care organizations and resources:
- Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center: This center in Boston, Massachusetts, offers culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services and programs to Chinese-speaking Asian elders. Some of their services include adult day health/social day care, citizenship assistance, ESL classes, Chinese brush painting classes, and nutritious Chinese meals.
- NY Chinatown Senior Center: Run by the Chinese-American Planning Council in New York City, the Chinatown Senior Center has more than 10,500 members. It’s funded by the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA), which is another great resource for seniors.
- Hong Lok Senior Center of Family Bridges: This senior center caters to Chinese-speaking seniors who live in the Oakland, California area. All staff members and many volunteers are bilingual in Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, or English. Seniors enjoy hot Chinese lunches, holiday celebrations, field trips, exercise classes, and recreation opportunities. Plus, Hong Lok provides information about, and referrals to, local services.
- Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSi): Founded in 2004, PASSi is committed to providing linguistically-attuned senior services to Asian older adults who live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Services include home care, the Penn Asian Jubilee Center Adult Day Care, Evergreen Center Senior Community Center, meal delivery, and benefits assistance.
FYI:Not ready to leave home yet? Some home care companies (like PASSi) cater to Chinese older adults. Do an internet search for “Chinese senior home care” or “Asian home care companies near me” to find options.
Where Can I Find Chinese-Speaking Assisted Living?
We used the tips above to identify a few Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking senior living options in the U.S. Since Chinese senior living is still relatively new in America, you’ll notice that the majority are located in cities with a large Chinese population. While you might not find a community near you on this list, it will give you a better idea of what these communities offer.
Fremont, California, and Newcastle, Washington
Aegis Living offers two Aegis Gardens locations that celebrate Chinese culture. Trained staff speak Mandarin and Cantonese and residents enjoy daily tai chi sessions (including chair tai chi!), calligraphy classes, mahjong, worship, and authentic Chinese cuisine. Feng shui design and traditional decor help Chinese adults feel comfortable and at home. Aegis Gardens has assisted living, memory care, and respite care.
Kin On helps to meet the varying needs of Asian elders by providing a rehab and care center, an adult family home, assisted living apartments, and short-term medical rehabilitation that are affordable and culturally sensitive. Kin On staff speak multiple Chinese dialects and residents enjoy authentic Asian cuisine.
San Francisco, California
Merced Residential Care tries to eliminate language barriers for Chinese older adults who need assisted living. Staff members speak English and a wide range of Chinese dialects, including Cantonese, Mandarin, Taishanese, and Shanghainese. Activities include tai chi and outings for dim sum at Koi Palace. Staff is also experienced in caring for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as hospice care.
Joyful Chapter, which specializes in caring for older Chinese adults, is located in South San Francisco. All staff members speak Cantonese and other dialects of Chinese, including Mandarin and Taisun. The community observes Chinese holidays and residents enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine, mahjong, Chinese TV, and dim sum outings.
In 2018, the first Chinese assisted living community in Texas broke ground. The location will provide residential senior living services for an estimated 1,000 residents, including assisted living, independent living, memory care, and respite care. Everspring Assisted Living isn’t expected to open until 2028, but aspiring residents can already make a refundable deposit.
Located in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown, the senior apartments at Embrace Living Communities are ethnically and culturally diverse. Residents celebrate Chinese holidays and traditions and have access to nearby restaurants and grocery stores in Chinatown. Other services include bilingual staff and faith-based and spiritual activities.
Brooklyn, New York
Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center offers a Longevity Garden program with bilingual English-Chinese services. The program provides registered nurse managers who are fluent in different Chinese dialects, bilingual activities, authentic Chinese cuisine, and Chinese TV programs and daily newspapers.
This Chinese community-based adult day healthcare center doesn’t provide senior living services, but it may be a good fit if you want to live independently but need support during the day. At CCACC, older adults can learn English, do tai chi, participate in spiritual activities, and interact with others with a similar cultural background. Nursing staff speak fluent Chinese and the center provides translators for seniors who have doctor’s appointments.