Cultural Caregiving: Where Family Caregiving Is Sometimes Expected

March 24, 2010 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Different cultures perceive family caregiving in different ways. For some, being a female means you will be expected to care for your elders. For others, it’s a family affair–everyone pitches in, but it stays primarily in the family. This is admirable–but many progressive families find that this model no longer suits their lives–or needs. It’s not that they don’t love their moms and dads, it’s that it takes two incomes to keep the family going–and women have fought long and hard for higher education and working opportunities. Cultural caregiving expectations keep them from pursuing their dreams.

Nadya is 32. Her family is from India although she has lived in the United States since she was five. She’s married, has two children, and is well educated. She works at the University of Arizona and so does her husband. They juggle their work schedule to cover the care of their young children. Her parents, about to turn 70 are beginning to hint that it’s time for Nadya to consider their care needs.

“I feel a family responsibility. In our culture, my parents going to an assisted living home or hiring outside help is just not heard of–they would be embarrassed and their peers would be shocked if this were to happen. They want to move in with us and even say they can help with our children. That sounds great, but our house is small–and we have our system all worked out. I love my father, but we don’t see eye-t0-eye, and this would cause many problems. Still, I feel that I have little choice in the matter–and would be considered a “bad” daughter if they don’t move in.

How to talk to your family about their caregiving years:

  • Talk often, when it’s natural–in the car or while you’re doing chores. Chip away at it slowly.
  • Be sensitive to their cultural expectations. Listen and realize that “losing face’ might not be a big deal to you, but it is to them.
  • Do only what’s necessary when it comes to caregiving. Some families expect too much–you may have to be the one to hold up the wall. Opt for safety and true health needs.
  • Try to delay the big move–if that’s what you’re concerned about. Help them find alternatives so they at least give it a try.
  • If there’s no way around it, make the best out of it. See how it could benefit you. Laugh at the crazy times, forgive quickly and don’t get hung up on the small stuff. Sometimes life surprises us–you might find some unexpected gifts in the arrangement.
  • Use the time to find out about your heritage. You only have a limited window before that generation is gone–and you–and your children will glean so much from finding out about your family’s legacy.

Sometimes family expectations can seem too much, and there’s a time to speak up and hold onto the changes you’ve earned and fought for–and there’s time to embrace your wild and crazy family–and make the best of it. Only you know when–and what’s right for you.

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , .

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Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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