by Mónica Cortés-Torres
Vicepresident of multicultural and internal
markets of AARP
trans. Víctor Flores
One of my favorite quotes is by Rosalynn Carter, it says: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
The Hispanic community fully understands and embodies that notion. They learn as children that taking care of their parents once they age is the natural course of life.
For Latinos, family is the base of their care giving system, and it is very likely that at some point they will have to help their parents, grandparents, and maybe even their spouses, to perform every day tasks like cooking a meal or taking a shower.
On average, Latinos live longer than the general population. By 2050, the Hispanic share of the elderly population will almost triple in comparison to 2005. Combined with health issues that are prevalent and/or undetected amongst the Hispanic population —conditions like diabetes and depression— the burden on caregivers could grow exponentially.
Latinos don’t think of themselves as caregivers because it is part of their upbringing. They consider taking personal care of their relatives as a duty, but they also consider it an act of love. Yet, despite the underlying expectations being ever present, most of them are caught by surprise and unprepared to face their care giving journey.
Caregivers have no roadmap. Through hard work, connections with other caregivers, and dedication, they figure out the answers as they go. They face challenges every step of the way, whether that’s helping a loved one manage a chronic condition at home, supporting a patient during a hospital stay, helping them recuperate from an illness, or trying to keep them comfortable at the end of their life.
Hispanic caregivers and their families also face additional difficulties: they often must deal with both language and cultural barriers as they navigate the health and social service systems. Additionally, there are a lack of culturally proficient elderly care services for the Hispanic population.
Because of the high-care needed by diabetics and those with cognitive diseases (both which disproportionally affect many Latinos), caregivers are often forced to change their work status or leave their work. And that little free time that Latino caregivers have, is typically dedicated to their family members in need of help. All of these factors combined make them more likely to experience emotional stress, physical and financial strain, and impacts on their health.
As a nonprofit, nonpartisan social mission organization for people over 50 years of age, AARP has worked tirelessly in multicultural communities to support and aid families so they can live their best life possible. This is why we recognize the selfless commitment and the difficulties of the task that you as a caregiver have taken on. We want to let you know that you are not alone. The AARP Caregiving Resource Center is an easily accessible place available around the clock that provides an easy way to join an online community of Hispanic caregivers, learn about local services, and get access to Spanish language tools and information to help you care for your loved ones and yourself. Just contact our Call Center hotline (1-888-971-2013) or click on www.aarp.org/cuidar and you will find tips and information on how to take care of yourself in your role as caregiver.
Care starts with you. AARP is here to help you better answer your calling to the duties of care giving, through a comprehensive network of information and resources, so that you can attain your real possibilities.