Providing Care for the Elderly – Challenges, Lessons and Resources

By Katherine Doble-Cannata

My grandparents Yeyo and Yeya

My grandparents, Yeyo and Yeya as we affectionately called them, spent over twenty-years as care-givers for my great aunt and uncle. While there was definitely an unstated feeling of repaying a debt to the people that had provided a home for their daughter for over 10 years until they themselves could flee Cuba, there was more importantly a feeling of duty.

While my grandparents never once complained, their obligation came at an unstated cost. Yeya spent her days stressed and Yeyo was constantly working to prepare meals, change linens, etc. They were not alone. In the United States there are nearly 350,000 elderly Hispanics depending on healthcare from caregivers. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and “The State of the Hispanic Caregiver in the United States and the Necessity for More Access to Effective Caregiver Resources” by Comfort Plus, 89% of Hispanic caregivers provide care to a relative and 2 out of 5 report living in a “high-burden” situation.

Our family enjoying some downtime with Yeyo and Yeya

There are a number of factors that contribute to this stress. Because Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanics, their length of care is also increased. And while Hispanics have a lower prevalence of chronic illness than the U.S. population, they have a higher prevalence of diabetes and obesity than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Caregivers site two main reasons for why the person they assist needs care: 1) old age or aging and 2) Alzheimer’s disease, confusion, dementia, or forgetfulness. Other illnesses include: mental/emotional illness, diabetes, and stroke. All are long-term illnesses.

Adding to the stresses, my grandparents were by no means trained health care professional and often times had to seek out information. In fact, one fourth of Hispanic adults in the United States lack a traditional health care provider. A similar amount report receiving no health care information from medical personnel in the last year. In contrast, 8 in 10 healthcare providers report receiving advice from alternative sources with 33% seeking it from the internet. That number is considerably low especially considering that Hispanics use the internet and social media at a higher rate than any other group. The reason for this may lie in the fact that there are not enough resources for them in Spanish.

Because of this, Comfort Plus, Inc. , a medical supplies company, launched an e-commerce site as well as a the Comfort Plus Para Ti section. This part of the web site completely in Spanish contains special sections including:

Encuentro Tu Producto: an interactive matrix that allows customers and caregivers find the correct products for them by assessing their unique incontinence needs

Atencion al Clientas y Mausetras: customers are able to speak to interact with a Spanish-speaking representative that will assist them in finding samples.

Gangas, Desuentos y Mas: information on discounts and deals that Comfort Plus is promoting

Centro de Recursos Para El Cuidador: informative materials for care givers

Blog: a blog with select pieces from their Centro de Recursos Para El Cuidador and an opportunity to provide feedback

Facebook: two Facebook pages one in English, Comfort Plus Medical Supplies and one in Spanish, Comfort Plus Para Ti keeping followers up to date on caregiver resources and product deals and discounts

Seeing my grandparents sacrifice to provide quality care to our family members provided a lesson for me that I will never forget. And I am glad that when it becomes my turn to take care of those closest to me, there will be resources to help me through the process.

Please visit www.comfortplusonline.com and use discount code: LMB2012 to receive $10 off any case of Tranquility products at checkout. Also, “Like” Comfort Plus on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, @ComfortPlusZac.

This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Comfort Plus Online. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

zp8497586rq