Resources for Culturally Diverse Families
by Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
Maria is caring for her husband, Jesse, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. She wants to learn more about his condition, including what to expect and how to provide Jesse with the best care. Unfortunately, any information she has found on Alzheimer’s is written in English. While she can understand some English, Spanish is her first language. This has also made it difficult to find workshops and caregiver support groups that can help Maria, as well as services that will be appropriate for Jesse. Maria feels alone in her journey and unsure where to turn for help.
As our country becomes increasingly diverse, Maria’s situation will only become more common. It is crucial for culturally appropriate information and services to be available and accessible in a multitude of languages. Another under-recognized circumstance is extreme long-distance caregiving. Our mobile society now includes caregivers who are caring for parents and grandparents who live in another country. If you are a caregiver, you understand how challenging it can be to find caregiving resources in your own neighborhood; imagine trying to find help across the globe!
If you or someone you know needs specific cultural or international caregiving resources, here are some ideas:
Check for educational materials in multiple languages. For starters, try searching the websites of organizations dedicated to specific diseases. The Alzheimer’s Association offers its website in several languages (go to alz.org and look for the dropdown box in the upper right-hand corner) and has translated specific materials into 18 different languages. Find those materials by clicking here. Likewise, the American Cancer Society offers its website in Spanish and provides many of its materials in a variety of Asian languages (again, see the upper right-hand corner of its website to access).
Search Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). If you or a family you know needs help in another country, this is a tremendous resource. The federation connects Alzheimer’s-related organizations from around the world. To find one, click here. Listings include addresses, phone numbers, and more. Many countries’ organizations also have their own websites.
Check the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (IAHSA). Founded in 1994, IAHSA is a global network of providers of aging and caregiving services. A good place to start is to contact your appropriate chapter, which can be found here. While chapters currently only exist in Europe, China, and the United States, it’s still a good start to locating aging services in distant places.
Make your cultural needs and values known. Once you’ve located an appropriate service, be sure to tell providers about your unique cultural and language needs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask how an agency ensures cultural sensitivity in the services they deliver. Even well-trained providers can harbor cultural biases that affect the way they help families. Agencies that help their providers become aware of these biases and take measures to limit their impact on service delivery are often found to be more culturally sensitive and effective.
Chettih, M. (2012). Turning the lens inward: Cultural competence and providers’ values in health care decision making. The Gerontologist, 52(6), 739-747.