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Hispanic Ethnic Minorities Web

Hispanic Ethnic Minorities Web

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Published by: Interfaith CarePartners on Sep 19, 2011
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12/06/2011

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701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
1
Ethnic Minorities:Caregiving Team Ministry in Hispanic Culture
Each of us is unique because of our individual culture and experience. These shapeour understanding and values, influence our decisions. The differences, in culturalnorms between mainstream American culture and Hispanic cultures, do not mean thatthey are good/bad, right/wrong. It means that cultural differences will influenceperceptions, attitudes, and responses. In the area of giving and receiving care, culturalnorms influence how a person responds to someone who is in need, whether s/he willask for help, how asking for and accepting help is perceived and understood.
 
Important Differences
Here are some important differences of how caregiving is perceived and offered in theHispanic culture.
Mental illnesses carry a great deal of shame, embarrassment, and stigma for thepatient and the family. This stigma may cause family members to minimize,deny, and hide the behaviors to outsiders. This sense of shame furtherdiscourages caregivers from seeking professional or informal support fromothers.
A female in the family is usually the designated caregiver. This may be adaughter, daughter-in-law, or granddaughter. Generally, when no femalecaregivers are available, men and extended family are enlisted as caregivers.
Typically, the Hispanic family
will not
place the parent, spouse, or child in a long-term care institution. Decisions and arrangements will be made among familymembers about who will provide care. The two primary reasons for this is the
Hispanic’s
concept of family and low income.Family is very important in the Hispanic community and intergenerationalreciprocity is valued. A sense of obligation, responsibility and high expectationstowards parents is instilled in children from an early age and passed on to thenext generation. Instances of a female caregiver leaving her job to care for anelderly parent are not uncommon.Many Hispanic families are low income. To meet the needs of a person who issuffering from a chronic illness, resources will be pulled by combining incomes or
 
 
701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
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two families living in one house. A person suffering from a chronic illness willeither be moved to the house of the caregiver or the caregiver will move into thehome of the patient.A Care Team
 ® 
member ought not be surprised if s/he finds three generationsliving in the same house. Living, sharing space in close quarters is culturallyquite acceptable. Issues of personal privacy are set aside for the sake of helpingthe family member who is in need.
Caring for an aged parent,
who is chronically ill, has dementia, Alzheimer’s, or 
impairment will be perceived and described by many family caregivers as ablessing, something they are happy to give. Caregivers may deny their ownneeds and suffer from depression, experience guilt, shame, and feelings offailure if s/he fails to provide care.
 
Reliance on people or services outside of the family is viewed as shirking one’s
familial responsibility and putting undue burden on outsiders. Not only is itperceived as a burden on others, but the cultural norm is to avoid sharing familysecrets or embarrassing information with strangers. The cultural norm of notsharing family matters will be more ingrained as it pertains to mainstreamAmerican culture which is perceived as being too individualistic and uncaring,particularly towards the elderly.
 
Suggestions to overcome barriers
These cultural norms create barriers that may seem insurmountable to care teammembers, but as more and more Hispanic women are working outside the homerequests for assistance have risen. Any ministry or educational program that aims toassist a Hispanic caregiver to improve his or her quality of life and that of his/her lovedone must have three key components.
The first one is to identify a well-known, respected and
trusted 
person in thechurch, i.e., priest, deacon, long time member, etc. This person may have a keyrole in communicating and disseminating the information about support services.This person will also be the one to introduce the Team member to the family.Before the Hispanic family accepts care from a stranger, an element of trust andunderstanding must be established.
 
 
701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
3
Provide materials to educate the community that chronic illnesses, dementia,
Alzheimer’s
disease or related illnesses are becoming more prevalent amongLatinos. If these materials are in Spanish, they should be reviewed for clarity.This will help raise awareness. Raising awareness will create interest. Increating interest, a more receptive attitude may be fostered and the CaregivingTeam concept of ministry may be easier to implement.
Any assistance, such as respite-care, ought to be presented as a benefit for theimpaired loved one, explaining that breaks from caregiving are important to thecare partner and the caregiver. They must be convinced that taking time to restand recharge does not mean they have abandoned their loved one or that theyare bad caregivers.
 
Establishing a relationship with Hispanics
Hispanics are typically outgoing, expressive in their speech and mannerisms, colorful,earthy and realistic. They feel their emotions - love, hate, joy - deeply and intensely.Most will be Roman Catholic and will have a tendency to be submissive to authority, asrepresented by the Pope and/or head of family. For this reason, few Hispanics will aska lot of questions from someone in a position of authority. However, the prevalentattitude toward civil authorities is one of high suspicion. To establish a relationship, onemust be patient.
Visits will take time. One does not just pop in, get right to business, and leave. ATeam member should be prepared to spend time chatting and have a socialconversation before s/he can ever ask about offering assistance. (Please notethat it is preferable that women visit women and the opposite is true for men.)
Hispanics who have just immigrated (legally or illegally) to the U.S. may speaksome very basic English phrases. Young children may be enlisted as translatorsfor the parents. In this instance, one has to be very careful because the childmay inadvertently translate a concept or word incorrectly and alienate the adult.
Many Hispanics will blend mystical beliefs and superstitions with their RomanCatholic faith. Do not be surprised if the person mentions
mal de ojo 
(evil eye),
susto 
(fright), or
empachado 
(a stomach ailment) as the cause of an illness.These will typically be
cured 
by a
curandera 
or a practitioner of folk medicine.Even when a person does not hold these beliefs, he or she will know about them.

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