As seniors age, they are more likely to require extra support, with most elderly individuals and family members preferring that seniors age comfortably in the familiarity of home—as opposed to the stark conditions of nursing home facilities. Independent living is the ideal scenario in which to achieve quality of living and can be reliably accomplished by enlisting an in-home caregiver.
Hiring the right caregiver makes a noticeable difference in the well-being of the senior. Care recipients are more likely to feel at ease with someone with whom they share a rapport and grow to trust. Elderly individuals feel connected with likeminded caregivers, who share a commonality or passion, like golf or card games. In return, the senior’s overall well-being is sustained or even improved.
When it comes to choosing the most appropriate caregiver, some elderly individuals may consider ethnicity as factor that determines whether or not they accept the caregiver’s help. Research shows that ethnic minorities are more likely to enlist the help of family and friends instead of recruiting formal in-home care. Non-ethnic individuals, in contrast, heavily rely on formal caregiving options. The substantial variance may be attributed to the cultural values toward senior care that are often embedded within each minority or majority group as well as economic factors and healthcare needs.
Elders who share a common ethnicity are likely to live in neighborhoods that also mirror this racial homogeneity. Communities are likely to hire a staff of local caregivers, who may be of similar ethnic backgrounds and who may specialize in the healthcare needs of a specific population. Trust may be established more readily among elderly populations and caregivers who share a common racial heritage. Along with reciprocating trust, in part due to shared customs and values, is the higher number of seniors who turn to in-home caregivers as a viable means of care.
What happens when a caregiver of a diverse ethnic or racial background enters a care recipient’s home? The elderly individual may notice the cultural differences and dissimilar skin tone. Protests or, alternately, acceptance may result.
Signs of an ill-fitting caregiver are numerous and may not depend solely on a caregiver’s ethnicity. The senior should be comfortable with the caregiver and freely move about the home when the caregiver is present—and not “hide”. It’s important that the care recipient is comfortable asking the caregiver for help. Assigned tasks should get done. Elderly individuals should be treated with respect by the caregiver and not feel as if the caregiver talks down to them. Any discomfort with the caregiver must be addressed by the family or reported to the agency.
Caregivers are trained to treat the human condition, no matter what the ethnic background of the client happens to be. Professional caregivers learn to be culturally sensitive, to respect personal choices and to not take any lack of appreciation personally.
Professional caregivers also understand that a client’s frustration due to the loss of health, bouts of increased pain and confusion may lead to uncivil outbursts. Problems with medications can lead to a client, who is ordinarily pleasant, to hurl offensive racial slurs at a long-time caregiver. In such an instance, the caregiver’s duty is to alert her supervisor of the event. A nurse is dispatched to the home to assess the situation further. In some cases, a problem with the medication may cause unruly behavior. Adjustments in medication can return the senior to her prior amiable demeanor.
On the other hand, clients may outrightly refuse to accept care from a caregiver who is ethnically diverse. Caregivers should approach the situation with a firm offer to help. When all attempts to provide care are rejected, the caregiver’s supervisor should be alerted. A replacement caregiver who matches the requirements of the senior is likely to be dispatched. The home care agency will work together with the caregiver to find the most appropriate fit. Long-time, professional caregivers are aware of situations like these happening and accept that not every care recipient and caregiver relationship will be a good match.
Not all caregivers experience the reality of an explicit black and white reaction. Sometimes, persistence in showing that a caregiver is there to help can allow the senior to adjust over time to the new support. Compassionate, verbal messages to the senior that communicate the willingness to help can reduce any hostile emotions that surge upon first meeting. Despite varying backgrounds, a senior who is hesitant at first later may be inclined to accept the differences and eventually welcome the caregiver—all while seeing past the skin color.
The caregiving profession requires a host of interpersonal skills. When a potential client warms up to the caregiver quickly, it is a good sign. Caregivers know with good judgment that sometimes seniors launch tirades of offensive language because their medications require adjustment, their cognition is impaired or their emotions are impacted as a result of disease. Communicating well is essential for a caregiver to establish a connection with the senior and the family, to relay health concerns and protect the senior from safety hazards. Overall, a positive caregiver goes a long way.
Assisting Hands Home Care is a dependable home health care agency with a staff of licensed, bonded and insured caregivers. Our professional caregivers provide a vast array of personalized services to help senior clients live out their years with dignity and independence.
Seniors can expect reliable, skilled elder care. Assistance with bathing, grooming and toileting are examples of routine services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care aides. Additional non-medical support includes meal preparation, grocery shopping, light housekeeping and companionship.
The caregiving process starts with a discussion between the management team, family and care recipient. A customized care plan is developed to ensure optimum care is provided by the Assisting Hands Home Care caregiver.