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AARP AARP States Washington Caregiving

Caring for Caregivers - a video podcast conversation with Dr. Anthony Chen

Washington's "Caring for Caregivers" video podcast series features discussions with local experts, community leaders, and caregivers just like you on a range of topics to help you along your caregiving journey.

This month, AARP State Director Marguerite Ro sits down with Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, to talk about how we can deal with the challenges of caregiving, especially in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and how our public health system can work better for all. Dr. Chen talks about how caring for his parents has impacted him professionally and personally and what working with diverse communities has taught him.

Read more about the interview below, and be sure to check our page each month for a new episode. Please also take a moment to view past podcast episodes here. Enjoy!

From Marguerite Ro, AARP Washington State Director

This month, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. It is an opportunity to celebrate the rich cultures of the diverse communities that make up the Asian American and Pacific Islander population.  It is also an opportunity to reflect on the journey of caregiving for these communities. 

Dr. Anthony L-T Chen.JPG
Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH

At the heart of caregiving for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as with most communities, is caring for family members.  A 2022 AARP report showed that two-thirds (67%) of Asian American and Pacific Islander adults ages 45+ in Washington say they are currently providing care to an adult relative or friend, or have in the past. An earlier nationwide AARP report also showed that  most Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (73 percent) believe that caring for parents is expected of them.

For immigrant communities where English is not the primary language, family caregivers play critical roles in providing translation and interpretation, assisting with locating resources and navigating often complex systems (e.g., insurance coverage and health and human services), and helping to bridge differing cultural expectations of aging.   

One individual who is familiar with bridging and addressing cultural differences, both personally and professionally, is Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. A primary role as the Director of Health is to care for the public’s health.  Dr. Chen is one of the few Asian American governmental public health directors in the nation.  He has been at the helm since 2008 and will be stepping down soon after more than 14 years of service. 

Caring comes in many shapes and forms.  Dr. Chen has been caring for Pierce County residents and all Washingtonians by being a strong advocate for creating the conditions that support individuals and families in leading healthy lives.  This includes having information available in the languages and formats that are easy for people to understand, and equitable access to needed resources.  Under his leadership, TPCHD worked tirelessly during the pandemic to assure that materials were available in multiple languages and partnered with trusted community organizations who could reach individuals who might otherwise not have the information or resources they needed, such as people living with disabilities, people who don’t speak English, or people who don’t have access to the internet.

At the personal level, Dr. Chen makes sure that his father has a helping hand and company.  Whether it is doing the laundry or going out for a walk with his father, it is all about the caring journey.  On a last note, Dr. Chen is also known for his Facebook posts where he shares pictures of his healthy meals which serve as a reminder to all to take care of one’s own health.

For additional information and resources specific to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, please see AARP’s Family Caregiving Guide and the full 2022 AARP Vital Voices survey on the issues impacting Washington’s Asian American and Pacific Islander older adults.

- Marguerite Ro, AARP Washington State Director

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