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Nadya Faulx/MEDILL

Recent immigrant Muhammad Bawani is just one of the thousands of limited English-speaking elderly learning to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers in Chicago.

Older immigrants face unique cultural, language hurdles

by Nadya Faulx
Dec 04, 2012

Chicago is home to nearly 172,000 senior immigrants navigating a new country and a new culture with limited language skills and a sense of cultural isolation, according to the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly.  The coalition was founded in 1987 when 12 ethnic community organizations came together to address the “significant lack of services being offered to ethnic older adults,” said executive director Marta Pereyra.

Now 51 members strong, the organization is helping senior immigrants from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Muhammad Bawani, 72, an Indian native who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan just four years ago and is studying to become an American citizen.