The average Latine caregivers are usually women in their 40s. However, younger caregivers are becoming more common as the Baby Boomer generation is aging, generating a total of 27 percent of millennial caregivers being from the Latine community.
The percentage of Latines spending more time helping with daily caregiving activities is higher than their White and Asian American counterparts, according to a report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Caregiving is also an activity most Latines do at home, as sending a loved one to a care facility can be seen as taboo.
“I moved back home to Miami after college and, like many Hispanic families, I was living in a multigenerational household. It was my grandmother, my mom, my younger sister, and myself,” said Bianca Padilla, CEO of Carewell, a health and wellness company offering products for at-home care. “My mom and I became caregivers for my grandma after hip surgery left her almost immobile. It was an overwhelming experience. We didn’t know what products to buy or even where to find them while learning how to best care for my grandmother with no source or support.”
Padilla also added that familism, the cultural value of familial ties, is an important — and very present — term among Latinx families. The Diverse Elders Coalition considers familism a value that “involves dedication, commitment, and loyalty to family.”
“When a loved one ages or is sick and needs care, it’s seen as your due diligence to take care of them, and having the opportunity to care for someone that cares for you is valued within the (Hispanic) community,” said Padilla.
Rooted in a patriarchal society
Patriarchy can also influence a caregiving role. Latinas are usually expected to care for their parents once they begin to age, sometimes taking care of two generations: the elderly and their children.
This sense of honor can often lead to caregivers not asking for help when it’s most needed and, according to a study by the Diverse Elders Coalition, the caretaker’s responsibilities can generate a negative impact on their emotional and physical health.
“As a caregiver, it’s important to remember that even if caring for your loved one is an honor, that doesn’t mean it isn’t physically and emotionally taxing,” said Padilla. “Many caregivers within our community have a sense of pride that they want to uphold. This leads them to put up a facade to ensure family outside of the home think that they’re able to handle everything when in reality they’re struggling.”
In order for Latines to break the stigma around asking for professional help, Padilla has four important recommendations:
- You need the support of family and friends to help you be a caregiver: Honest conversations with family members and creating caregiving plans can improve how the caregiver feels about the responsibility.
- Taking a break is the key to being a good caregiver: A person can’t provide the best care if they are not rested.
- Look into community resources that can help: Senior centers can be a good idea.
- Explore your loved one’s medical benefits if able: Some programs cover the cost of caregiving needs.
Are you currently a caregiver for someone in your family? If so, please heed the advice. And don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way.