By DANIEL COBB https://caring.com/
According to United States census data from 2022, 18.9% of the U.S. population identifies as Hispanic. That adds up to 62.1 million people, many of whom are of advancing age or will be soon. However, despite the fact that Hispanics living in the United States enjoy longer life expectancies than many other ethnic groups, only 20% of Hispanics over 40 say they’re confident that an assisted living facility or nursing home would ever be able to meet their needs.
That said, if you’re currently evaluating care options for a Hispanic senior loved one, and you’re concerned about finding an appropriate fit, you’re far from alone. There are many factors to keep in mind as you evaluate your choices, including dietary concerns and religious preferences. Here’s a closer look at what to look for.
1. SPANISH-SPEAKING STAFF
Language barriers are a very real concern when evaluating assisted living options for Hispanic seniors, especially if your loved one only speaks Spanish or is significantly more proficient in Spanish than English. Will your loved one be able to communicate with the staff and vice versa? Will a potential language barrier keep them from connecting with other residents? If you’d prefer a fully bilingual care facility, they’re definitely out there. However, standard facilities that keep translators on staff are also good options.
2. SENSITIVITY TO DIETARY PREFERENCES
Food is an integral part of many people’s lives, but this is especially the case for Hispanic people living in the United States. Many seniors are worried that moving to an assisted living facility will mean giving up the flavorful, culturally rich foods they know and love in favor of bland facility fare. Make sure the facility you choose is culturally aware enough to consider these preferences as well as any cultural beliefs your loved one may have about what to eat and when.
3. STAFF THAT INSPIRES COMFORT
The staff at an assisted living facility will become a significant part of your loved one’s daily life should they eventually move there, so it’s crucial that they feel comfortable with them. For example, many Hispanic seniors have very traditional views regarding gender norms. How will your loved one feel about being cared for by staff members of one gender versus another? Details, such as tattoos or unconventional personal aesthetics and religious differences, may factor into this concern as well.
4. RELIGIOUS ACCESS
Speaking of religion, many older Hispanics consider theirs to be extremely important. Quite a few – including the 64% of Hispanics over age 50 who self-identify as Catholic – have beliefs that require them to attend church in person, especially on certain days. Many seniors of Hispanic heritage may be concerned that moving to a care facility will affect their ability to fulfill their religious obligations. Look for communities that have religious services on site, or offer resident transportation.
Many seniors and their families doubt their ability to afford long-term care such as that offered by assisted living facilities, but this can be an especially pressing concern for Hispanics. Many may not realize that state and national assistance programs are available to help with these costs. If finances are a concern for your aging loved one, look into Medicaid and other programs they may qualify for. If eligible, they could receive enough assistance to make assisted living a viable option.
6. LACK OF DISCRIMINATION
Unfortunately, discrimination at the hands of other cultural groups is common in the lives of many Hispanic people, especially immigrants and others who may not have fully integrated into the local culture. It’s not unusual for seniors or their families to worry that discriminatory behavior may continue to be an issue, even at a care facility. Ensure that anti-discrimination policies are in place, and that appropriate training is provided to caregivers and employees. Also be sure to find out what the process of filing a complaint is if discrimination were to occur.
7. ACCESS TO CULTURAL TRADITIONS
Just as many Hispanic families worry that a senior loved one might be unable to access preferred foods or appropriate religious services, additional cultural factors can also be a concern. For example, many Hispanic cultures cherish traditional celebrations connected to their heritage — such as Día de Muertos, to name just one example. The potential inability to continue participating in culturally significant traditions such as these can easily be enough to stop a senior from giving assisted living any real consideration. Find out whether the facility has a population of other Hispanics and whether they make an effort to embrace other cultural traditions.
8. ABILITY TO ADDRESS HEALTH CONCERNS
Hispanic seniors are already more likely than the average non-Hispanic older adult to wind up at a facility that’s inadequate or otherwise inappropriate for them. That makes it extra important that you choose an option that’s fully equipped to treat any specific health concerns your loved one may have. For example, conditions including dementia, diabetes and stroke require special care you’ll want to ensure is available.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although choosing the right assisted living facility for the Hispanic senior in your life is never easy, the process definitely becomes more approachable when you know what you’re looking for. The more culturally sensitive and well-equipped the facility is to meet your loved one’s needs, the better the fit, and more options are out there than you may think.
Original Article: https://www.miamiherald.com/seniors/living/article276654056.html