As tough as caring for a family member at home is, Hispanic women bear more than their share of the burden. Familialismo, the expectation that family takes care of family, including elderly sick relatives, is deeply embedded in the Hispanic culture. Consequently, Hispanics are less likely to ask for help from social support programs, apply for Medicaid, or question the harsh life of being caregiver and maintaining an outside job.
Matters are made more complicated because the Hispanic population tends to live longer than other non-Caucasians, despite less insurance and increased poverty. What’s more, Hispanics experience higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Finally, Hispanics have more difficulty navigating the health care system due to language barriers. (Remember, though, that medical translation services must be provided upon request, thanks to the Patients’ Bill of Rights as set forth in the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.)
Help is available, though. The National Hispanic Council on Aging promotes its E-Learning Center, providing a wealth of resources related to cultural issues, health education, and outreach to medical providers regarding their cultural competence. Patient advocates will continue to lobby for better representation of minority groups — ultimately, we are all in the same predicament. Change happens, but not necessarily at the pace we would wish!