Elderly Care in America: A Closer Look by Culture

Topics: White American, Culture, Old age Pages: 5 (1461 words) Published: October 21, 2013


Elderly Care in America: A Closer Look by Culture

Elderly Care in America: A Closer Look by Culture
While Elder Abuse is common in all three cultures, Ethnic variations in caregiving exist in Elderly care. Even though there are common themes among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanic elderly care, each culture deals with it in different ways. Each culture approaches caregiving for the elderly with dementia differently. There are cultural variations in the uses of formal services, elder abuse and care of elderly family members. Most notable among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanic exist different ideals and family values with regards to elderly care and family obligations. Research has shown that ethnic variations in caregiving exist. However, less attention has been given to the common experience of caregiving, across ethnic group affiliation. Semi-structured interviews with African American, Caucasian American, and Latino caregivers were conducted to understand the common experience of caregiving (Ayalong, 2004). First, the elderly population within the United States is growing. All cultures are faced with caring for their elderly. Census data as of 1930 to 1990 shows “the U.S. elderly population increased from 5% to 13% of the total U.S. population. With continued population aging, those older than 65 are projected to increase to 20% of the total U.S. population by the year 2050” (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). Although there are common themes among the issues faced by the seniors in each culture, there are notable differences in the way each culture approach caregiving for these senior members of society. Among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanic the care for dementia among the elderly is one area in which differences can be observed. Dementia is not culture specific and can happen in any culture. In her research Ayalong observed that there are common themes among the three cultures that were studied. Ayalong stated that dealing with dementia or Alzheimer and associated family conflicts that arise as a result, along with the use of formal services were a few of the common theme which was observed by the caregivers in each culture. Underutilization of formal services is pervasive among Caucasian American, African American, and Latino caregivers (Cox, 1999; Haley et al., 1996; Hinton & Levkoff, 1999). However, most research suggests that relative to Caucasian Americans, ethnic minorities underutilize mental health services. Wood and Parham (1990) found that Caucasian American caregivers attended support groups more frequently than African Americans. In addition, relative to Caucasians Americans, older African Americans are less likely to use nursing home services (Miller, McFall, & Campbell, 1994). Similarly, research suggests low levels of formal service utilization among Latino caregivers, relative to Caucasian American caregivers (Hinton & Levkoff, 1999; Henderson, Gutierrez-Mayka, Garcia, & Boyd, 1993). Additionally, each culture differs in the uses of formal services. Caucasian Americans tend to have better access and utilize formal service more than both African American, and Hispanics. In most cases regardless of the culture however, when the elderly is not institutionalized for care, it appears to be typically one individual of the family that is primarily responsible for their care. The data gathered by National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association for Retired Persons reflects who is most likely to provide care to the elderly. In the United States, approximately 80% of the care for older adults is provided informally, oftentimes, by a single family-member (Matthews & Rosner, 1988). It is argued that caregiving is more prevalent among ethnic minorities than among Caucasian American families, ranging from 29% for African American and 27% for Latino compared to 24% for Caucasian American families (National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association for Retired Persons,...

References: Ayalong, L. (2004). Cultural Variants of Caregiving or the Culture of Caregiving. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 11(4), 131-8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/219343804?accountid=32521
McCoy, R. (2011). African American Elders, Cultural Traditions, and the Family Reunion. Generations, 35(3), 16-21. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/906523150?accountid=32521
Dilworth-Anderson, P., Ishan, C. W., & Gibson, B. E. (2002). Issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in caregiving research: A 20-year review (1980-2000). The Gerontologist, 42(2), 237-72. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210967421?accountid=32521
Lachs, M. S., & Pillemer, K. (2004). Elder abuse. The Lancet, 364(9441), 1263-72. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/198993110?accountid=32521
Brickner, M. (2007). Communities of Care: Assisted Living for African American Elders. Care Management Journals, 8(3), 150-158. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197981474?accountid=32521
National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP). (1997) Family Caregiving in the U.S.: Findings From a National Survey.
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