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Caregiver Support: Finding Culturally Sensitive Caregivers

Caregiver Support: Finding Culturally Sensitive Caregivers

Most adult children want to care for their senior loved ones at home as long as possible, but, once in a while, you have to get a little help from friends. And sometimes, you have to get a little help from strangers, which can be stressful for you and your loved one — especially if cultural or religious differences come into play. The emotional toll of talking to an older loved one about new caregiver support can be difficult, especially if you initiate the conversation unprepared. Here are some of the important things to know and to do if you’re planning to hire a new caregiver for your senior loved one.

“Why Can’t You Just Take Care of Me?
This can be one of the most difficult questions to answer when discussing caregiving options with a senior family member. Your loved one took care of you growing up, and the thought of delegating this task to someone else can be heartbreaking — but the reality is that you can’t be a caregiver for 24 hours a day, all seven days of the week. And unfortunately, you can’t simply hire the adolescent down the street to provide assistance while you go out for a night or just run errands.

So while your loved one may balk at the idea of bringing in any outside caregiver, assure him that you are simply bringing in some extra caregiver support so you can continue being there without compromising your own health and well-being.

Easing the Transition
If your senior loved one has specific religious needs, or grew up in a culture that respects particular practices, it can be helpful to find a compatible caregiver. Unfortunately, for some, this undertaking can be nearly impossible, and it may become necessary for you to speak with your loved one about the possibility of receiving care from someone whose background or gender is different from her own. Find out what questions or concerns she might have, and try to interview potential caregivers with these questions in mind so that your loved one can be involved with the decision process. Remember, too, that where personal care is concerned, gender discrepancies can be of particular issue. Women, for example, can be sensitive to the idea of having male caregivers provide their personal care, and the same can be true for men.

Finding the Best Match

So what do you do if it becomes necessary to bring in caregivers with diverse backgrounds? Start by reviewing these questions that the AARP recommends asking potential caregivers or the agency providing care:

Is there a language barrier? Try finding candidates who are fluent in your loved one’s primary language. Are the caregivers familiar with meal preparation methods of the foods your loved one prefers? Does staff training include cultural and religious sensitivity training? If you’re hiring from an agency, this should be a pretty common component of new-hire orientation.

Your loved one may come from a different era that wasn’t as culturally diverse as that which we enjoy today, but with a little discussion, research, and by asking some thoughtful questions, you should be able to find a culturally sensitive caregiver who can provide your senior with the outstanding care he deserves.

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