A bulletin board at the community center showcases all kinds of classes offered to the Asian elder community. Photo by Isabel Wang.

Everyone ages, but not everyone ages well. We are born to grow old and will eventually die one day. People in all walks of life are going to face this situation, no exception. The fear of aging may also occur time after time. However, the elements of aging that we fear can be optional. One of the many ways to age gracefully is to have a healthy body. What seldom crosses our mind is the potentially dreadful situation non-English speaking elders in the Asian community might face regarding multiple health issues. This is why Kin On and Asian Senior Concerns Foundation (ASCF) have dedicated decades to assist Taiwanese and Chinese elders in taking good care of themselves by aging wisely.

Kin On is a 35-year-strong health and social services provider for the Asian community. It launched the nation’s first bilingual Chinese-American nursing home, meeting Asian elders’ needs. After years of growth, Kin On is still expanding its services. Besides home care and caregiver support services, Kin On’s Social Service Specialist and ASCF Community Center Coordinator Jerry Chang said that the nonprofit organization has also added the Healthy Living Program in 2016 and assisted living and adult family home in 2019.

Chang is Taiwanese and 35 years old, has a degree in public health, and joined Kin On in June 2013. In his time at Kin On, he said his greatest achievement has been “to receive lots of support from the client, coworkers, founders, donors and volunteers. He said, “They care about what they are doing and believe it is a good thing. I do not want to let them down.” Chang’s passion and enthusiasm reflects Kin On’s core value, which is, ”True to you.”

Jerry Chang is the Kin On Social Service Specialist and ASCF Community Center Coordinator. Photo by Isabel Wang.

The volunteer-based ASCF was founded in 2001 by a group of Taiwanese doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and scholars. In 2017, ASCF merged with Kin On because of the similar goals they share. Kin On Healthy Living Program aims to keep Asian adults and elders active physically, mentally and socially, while ASCF stresses the importance of the why and how to make wiser retirement plans. “You have to manage your own aging,” said Dr. I-Jen Chen, one of ASCF’s founders. ”Even though getting old, [we] still hope to contribute to the society.”

Dr. I-Jen Chen, one of the founders of ASCF, came up with a fishbone diagram about how to age wise. Photo by Isabel Wang.

Dr. Chen developed a fishbone diagram when he established ASCF that contained four principles that lead to a healthy post-retirement life: maintain solid health, save the necessary funds, enjoy worry-free recreation and arrange for fitting homes (. Specialized in internal medicine, geriatric medicine and long-term care, Dr. Chen encourages elders to keep learning and joining social networking events. ASCF’s purpose is to age wisely, while the spirit is to “allow everyone to learn and apply to their own retirement plans.” Most importantly, the ultimate goal is to “build a Disneyland in twilight years.”

After ASCF and Kin On Healthy Living Program came together, they created wellness classes and weekly seminars with diverse themes that take place at the Community Center located in Bellevue. The wellness classes range from fitness, to arts and crafts, to technology, to language learning to health education. When it comes to spreading correct and timely information, the community center serves as a place where elder Asians who do not speak fluent English can receive and get equipped with what they need to know.

With the recent novel coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Chen shared the latest developments in the United States and everyday preventive actions in the weekly seminars earlier this month. Though there is no fixed schedule on when the next coronavirus-related seminar will be, Chang addressed said, “If necessary, further updates will be included in the weekly newsletter.”

Longtime Taiwanese volunteer Hsu Ba, which means Father Hsu, is the embodiment of how the community center empowers elders. Now 78 years old, he immigrated to the United States in 1983 and opened his own Taiwanese restaurant. He has lived in the United States for decades, but he still finds it hard to blend into the American communities, and he speaks little English. Hsu used to be Dr. Chen’s patient and joined ASCF in 2004. At first, Hsu was just taking computer lessons and attending seminars. The computer class instructor encouraged him to become a teaching assistant, and he says he went from knowing nothing about computers and online activities to managing Kin On’s Youtube channel and uploading the weekly seminar that he would record and edit.

Hsu Ba is always the first one to open the door at the center. “This place is like a second home to me…I feel warmth when I can speak my mother tongue,” Hsu said, his happiness showing on his face.

Hsu Ba, a long-time volunteer at the community center manages Kin On’s Youtube channel. Photo by Isabel Wang.

Interested in joining Kin On/ASCF Community Center? Visit: kinon.org or contact +1-888-721-3634.

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