Helping Others in Need: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Elderly Care

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1526 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 1526|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Cultural Nuances in Helping Elders in Need
  3. Western and Eastern Approaches to Helping Others
  4. Role of Respect in Chinese Culture
  5. Role of Morals in China
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works Cited


It is always interesting to study other cultures, and it is extremely important for an international student majoring in translation like me to do this when I have interact with them every day and I need to translate them properly. However, even though I once thought I was fully prepared to avoid insulting someone or embarrassing myself and my own culture, I still made a lot of mistakes in case of a sudden accident. This paper does not aim to be a professional attempt to investigate how Western and Eastern cultures treat elders differently. In fact, I find that when it comes to helping the elders instead of the young or pregnant, the situation is much more complicated, and a lot of cultural concerns are involved. So this paper only focuses on my own experience and hopes the discussions may help other Chinese who also once was confused in case of helping others in need and elders on the street abroad.

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Cultural Nuances in Helping Elders in Need

China is one of those unique oriental cultures mainly because its communist background, food, history, as well as its famous Confucianism and Taoism. And Westerners barely get in touch with it through movies and local Chinese restaurants. What I’ve learned over the years is that their knowledge of China is useless, just as a native Chinese student me, who lived in Melbourne for two years, has never truly appreciate and understood the Western culture.

When Delia mentioned her experience in class of how a senior in her family asked her not to help her stand up, I was shocked and touched, because my grandma had mobility difficulties and she was always happy with help from other family members, even though she could handled it by herself. At least, I mean, my grandma is open for help and she will never be angry with that. And the reason I was shocked was clear -- I had helped a senior in street three days before that class and I may had acted in a way which was not appreciated. It was a rainy afternoon and I was only a few steps away from home after school. I was crossing the road when the light turned green. The road was wet and slippery and suddenly a man, probably in his 60s or 70s, who was walking in front of me fell. There were several men and women around and the crowded stopped walking when the man, out of the blue, dropped his walking stick and fell flat to the ground. Others were obviously shocked and they didn’t move. I, at the moment, didn’t think of the reason they watched him came down. As the man’s upper body almost fell to the ground, I rushed to him without hesitation and grabbed his arm. I helped him stand up by holding him for one more second and I got my hand back. It was at that moment that the crowd finally had some reactions, and they asked whether the man was okay. I asked the same question and stepped away. I began to feel that I may acted too rudely at the moment so I went home without further stop.

Western and Eastern Approaches to Helping Others

I’m not the type of person who can really respond and react fast enough in case of an accident. In fact, I’m not even flexible and weak in physical activities. All I have got are friendly and warm vibes, and because of those vibes, I helped several persons on the bus or in the street when they fell unexpectedly. Delia’s story was rather inspiring to me and I began to rethink my reaction that day. My conclusion is that the crowd did have the chance to stop the man from falling but they chose to stay and watch. I remembered last time I fell onto a muddy road in Melbourne, A woman who was a few steps away asked me twice whether I was alright but remained stayed at a distance when asking. After Delia’s class, I was sure that in Western Cultures, one must ask before helping others. Indeed, In China, it is the same as in Australia where one asks before helping others. But there is some occasion which is urgent and Delia did mention that the elder at the house was facing great difficulties in standing up. Under such circumstances, I think we Chinese turn out to help others in a less cordial but more efficient way. So what kinds of cultural and lingual concerns behind led to such a huge difference in behavior?

Being sensitive to another person’s needs is very important in Chinese culture. It is expected that you will respect the other person and treat them well. This simply explains why under urgent or severe circumstances, Chinese turn out to ignore those polite routines and act in a more direct way regardless the own feelings of the ones got helped. For some cases, this may be regarded as impolite and rude, and some helps are not needed or overly done. Sometimes it does gets both the helpers and those receiving helps in trouble. But in most cases throughout China, the needs are met at each encounter when there’s a helping hand.

Role of Respect in Chinese Culture

Confucius once had a saying: “without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” This notion of respect is a characteristic that has never fallen in Chinese history with the help of Confucianism. For lingual concerns, respect ties into reputation as those individuals who do not respect others in speaking will be shunned in Chinese society. But sometimes, asking for advice or offering help is just not essential. As long as respect is held in heart, whether it is expressed deliberately or directly does not matter. According to Carron (2017), in western country like America where individualism is praised, people are more concerned with their own image, and they tend to not think of respecting others as much as Chinese do. As a result, they act in a more polite way. For example, in the case of helping a person falling on the road, they ask for “Are you OK?”, “Are you alright?” or “Do you need help?” After receiving the response, the helpers finally act. Western helpers turn out to be more calm and indifferent compared to Chinese helpers. In a typical similar case, Chinese helpers ask in a more directly way as “Are you hurt?” or “How can I help you?” They never regard offering help as an offense to those receiving helps, and interestingly, this was heavily impacted by another important perspective in Chinese culture.

Role of Morals in China

Chinese society places high values on the morals of everyone. In China, everyone was taught in primary school to always be helpful. Although there are mounting injury feigning cases in which some people blackmail helpers by pretending they are hurt, giving others a helping hand regardless the situation is still highly praised. There is a popular saying from a vice president of Peking University: “To all students and staff, feel free to help those in need. If you are blackmailed, the Law School of Peking University will help you win in court and if you lose, the university will cover you penalty. This is an evidence demonstrating how honored one can be by helping others. In contrast to Chinese culture, Western cultures are more relaxed. In his book “Beyond Culture”, Hall even argued that there needs to be more moral emphasis (1976).

“A youth, when at home, should be filial and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies.” This is another famous saying from Confucius and this reveals how long the tradition of respecting and caring for the elders has been taken into practice. In fact, going back to the ancient days of Confucius, Chinese had practiced reverence and respect for both ancestors and elders. This practice and moral requirement was carried from the mighty emperor to the slaves in feudal society. In the modern world, it is still expected as one of the most important and essential requirements for every legal adult. In Chinese culture, the older persons are the wiser and more respected they become, for their accumulated wisdom is a great source of inspiration for the younger generations.

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While many cultures celebrate the aging process and venerate their elders, plenty of Western cultures put shame around aging and death. According to where youth is fetishized and the elderly are commonly removed from the community and relegated to hospitals and nursing homes -- aging can become a shameful experience. Physical signs of human aging tend to be regarded with distaste, and aging is often depicted in a negative light in popular culture if it is even depicted at all.

Works Cited

  1. Carron, A. V. (2017). Group dynamics in sport. Routledge.
  2. Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Anchor.
  3. Hsu, C. (2001). Confucianism and Modernization: Industrialization and Democratization of the Confucian Regions. Journal of Contemporary China, 10(26), 125-143
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Helping Others in Need: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Elderly Care. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Helping Others in Need: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Elderly Care.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
Helping Others in Need: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Elderly Care. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Helping Others in Need: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Elderly Care [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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