Caregiving in the Chinese Community
One day, I received a 60-year-old daughter's phone call stating that her 92-year-old mother woke up at midnight, packed her luggage and said she wanted to go home. She is living in her home with her daughter and son-in-law. However, the mother persistently said it was not her home and insisted she must leave. She was upset that her daughter wouldn't open the door to let her out and yelled at her and her son-in-law, which woke their neighbors. She repeated this nightly for two weeks, leaving her daughter and son-in-law feeling exhausted and helpless.
Although Alzheimer's disease occurs gradually, those affected may show sudden changes in behavior, especially in the middle stage of the disease. These unusual behaviors give unprepared families great distress and frustration, especially in the Chinese community. There is a lack of awareness of Alzheimer's; people think about Alzheimer's as a mental illness and a shameful thing. Therefore, they are resistant to seek help or medical treatment. This resistance gives Chinese caregivers more challenges and pressures.
There are several ways that Chinese caregivers can become better caregivers, while at the same time taking care of themselves. Here's how to start:
- Become an educated caregiver. As the disease progresses, new caregiving skills may be necessary. CaringKind offers Chinese programs to help you better understand and cope with the behaviors and personality changes that often accompany Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
- Know what resources are available in the Chinese community. Managed Long Term Care, adult daycare programs, Visiting Nurse Services and Meals on Wheels can help you manage daily tasks.
- Take care of yourself. Take breaks each day, spend some time with friends, keep up with your hobbies and interests, eat healthy foods, and exercise as often as you can.
- Join a caregiver support group. Caregiver support groups provide you with a safe place to share advice and compassion with other caregivers, and to relieve your emotional distress. Call the 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900 to learn more about joining a support group.
Caregiving in the African American Community
As a former caregiver and support group leader of two African American support groups, I am very much aware of the cultural challenges, myths, and barriers specific to the African American community when it comes to caring for a person with dementia (PWD). Myths, such as believing that memory loss is a normal part of aging, delay an early diagnosis, which can result in missing out on treatments that are most effective in the early stages of the disease. These delays can also result in missed opportunities for advance legal and financial planning and establishing a care plan for the PWD and the family caregiver. A lack of advance planning can mean the difference between operating in dysfunction and chaos or having a quality relationship between the caregiver, the family, and the PWD. Quality relationships foster healthier outcomes for the caregiver, such as reduced stress and avoiding burnout or financial demise. Therefore, being educated about the disease and knowing the difference between normal forgetting and memory loss should be a priority for any caregiver.
When historical and cultural barriers, such as a mistrust of the system or simply feeling uncomfortable exposing personal family business, come into play, families miss out on the essential help needed to support caregivers in their journey. Help can come in the form of emotional support, financial support, professional support, or respite, but without it, the caregiver’s well-being can be compromised.
So be educated, be prepared, and be supported in your journey by reaching out to CaringKind’s dedicated staff of professionals who can direct you to educational seminars, support groups, legal planning, respite and more. No caregiver should have to do this alone.
Caregiving in the Latino Community
“Yes, my mom has Alzheimer’s, but NO she doesn’t need the bracelet. She isn’t that bad yet.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those phrases, and countless others like them, I would be living comfortably in a tropical setting. As Latinos, we assume the responsibility of caring for our loved ones with an unrivaled passion. We cannot be turned from what we feel is our duty. Culturally, it is frowned upon if you are NOT taking care of those who provided for you.
So many of us assume the caregiving responsibility without fully understanding what it will mean and are not prepared to fulfill this complex and exhausting task. Often, caregivers have their own medical conditions that require attention. It is not unusual for caregivers to neglect themselves because every waking moment is dedicated to the care of a family member. However, if you become ill, who will care for your mother or father?
We at CaringKind completely understand the caregiver’s perspective. We help make the caregiving experience a better one for both the person with dementia and the caregiver. Our Helpline is available to you 24 hours a day. Our Social Work Services staff will work with you to guide you and put you in touch with the specific resources and tools you will need to care for your loved one. Our Family Caregiver Workshops provide a foundation of knowledge and practical tips so you can provide the best care to your relative, and take care of yourself as well.
You don’t have to work yourself to an early grave caring for someone. We are here to help. We can help. All our services are provided by bicultural and bilingual dementia care specialists, who can provide guidance in Spanish. Call our 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900 to speak to a caregiving professional today.