The duties of caregivers can be intense. Adapting to the elderly’s personal preference is hard enough, but cultural differences can add a whole new layer of understanding and acceptance.
How Families can Discuss Cultural Differences with a Caregiver.
Some Asian cultures are known to revere their elders and traditionally care for and respect their wisdom and history. Placing someone in assisted living is not considered appropriate.
Mediterranean and Latin cultures place similar priority on the family. It’s common for multiple generations to live under one roof. The aged remain integrated well into their last days.
Bringing a caregiver into a culturally diverse home can take some work to make it successful. Expecting a caregiver to “get it” without some discussion puts the caregiver at a disadvantage.
Discuss Non-English Speaking Issues.
It is not unusual for an older person from another culture to be non-English speaking. If the senior is Spanish speaking, families can ask an agency for a Spanish-speaking caregiver.
Another idea is to develop a plan of care in the senior’s native language so they can understand caregiver duties. Revisit this often to make sure any problems or concerns are addressed.
Discuss Personal Space Preferences and Issues of Boundaries.
Some caregivers are naturally effervescent which can be great for some, but seniors from other cultures may prefer a relationship without a lot of chatter or assumed familiarity.
Seniors from other cultures may be very uncomfortable with some intimate tasks that caregivers need to perform, such as assistance with toileting, bathing, and getting dressed.
As a family member, make any preferences known and suggest ideas on how to perform these intimate tasks while observing personal boundaries that honor and demonstrate respect.
Discuss Holidays, Customs, and Spiritual Beliefs.
Families should discuss what unique customs and celebrations are recognized to ensure that accommodations or any preparations required can be made by the caregiver.
Many cultures take pride in caring for their elders, they may continue even with caregivers. Seniors may prefer a family member to perform certain tasks, so discuss those in advance.
Caregivers are sometimes called to assist someone who is near death. Educating the caregiver on cultural and spiritual belief systems will help them be more sensitive to the elder’s journey.
Cultures can be exciting and stimulating. We can get lost in our bubble of customs and culture. As caregivers or family of an aging adult, be open and accepting of the amazing diversity around us.