Objective: identify how filial care and the relationship with the elderly occur in families of different nationalities. Method: qualitative study carried out in a town on the triple frontier of Paraná, comprising 33 elderly people of five different nationalities, adopting the Symbolic Interactionism and the Grounded Theory as theoretical-methodological strategy. Results: among Lebanese people, the Muslim religion teaches children to obey and respect parents; among French, distant family relationships and institutions for the elderly stand out. Paraguayans hold close family relationships; Chinese people consider filial care as a tacit obligation; Brazilians, in turn, tend to embrace and take care of their parents in old age. Conclusion: family care prevailed, but the traditions of each society lead the actions of that care, demanding health professionals' capacity of recognizing in which context the elderly is inserted.