I am going to discuss something that makes me extremely uncomfortable: caring for our elders. Perhaps I’ll sound heartless, unkind, or extremely selfish, but this is my truth: as long as I can remember I have been terrified by the thought of having to care for my mother when she gets old. Growing up as the daughter of a single Latina mother, it seemed inevitable that I would have to.
Being part of a large Latino family, I am no stranger to witnessing children becoming their parents caregivers and I have seen up close and personal that it is an awesome responsibility emotionally, financially, and physically. I love my mother and of course want what is best for her, but for many years felt daunted by the idea that I would most likely be the one that would end up caring for her in her later years.
Many Latinos live in mulit-generational households.
I had no idea how I would manage the stress of being her translator, navigator through the healthcare system, and sometimes nurse. My mother is a beautiful, generous, stubborn, and bossy woman. As her daughter, this apple did not fall far from the tree. I am all the things that she is, but my temper is worse. Yikes!
Life has turned out better in many ways than I expected and the possibility of taking care of my mother doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to for many reasons such as..
- I’ve matured and had a full life so I don’t feel like I am in danger of being robbed of time for myself.
- My mother is doing well and is quite competent and managing her own health care for the time being.
- My mother found a partner in life and my step-father is a rock and makes me feel like the future is taken care of.
- The advent of the internet has made it so much easier to acquire information. My teenager self never could have imagined all that the internet would put at my fingertips.
It is because of the internet that I learned about the findings of a White Paper The State of the Hispanic Caregiver released by Comfort Plus. The paper brings up issues that Hispanic caregivers specifically have to deal with, things like…
- Hispanic caregivers are younger than their general population counterparts.
- The stresses of living in multi-generational households.
- Hispanics have higher rates for causes of incontinence (diabetes, overweight, Alzheimer’s, etc.)
Because of these findings Comfort Plus has done things to make things easier for Hispanic caregivers, things like creating a dedicated section for Spanish speakers, Comfort Plus Para Ti. That’s HUGE!
Most websites offer translation options, but the translations are just not the same as having the content created in the actual language. For people like my mother and me this is a great thing because although I am more comfortable in English, she is far more comfortable in Spanish and being able to provide her the information in Spanish without having to translate it myself is just one less thing to worry about. Also, I would certainly rather discuss incontinence products at home rather than in the aisle of a store.
As far as I know, I may never have to become my mother’s caregiver, still it makes me so happy to know that there are resources out there for those that need them and I hope that this is a trend that grows because let’s face it, we are all getting older.
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