Culture Clash: 3 Ways To Help Home Health Care Givers Understand Your Minority Senior

The Affordable Care Act has had a positive impact on minorities in the U.S., allowing formerly uninsured or under-insured minorities to receive adequate health care. While this is an awesome achievement, minority patients and health care workers must now learn how to communicate effectively with each other despite cultural differences.

This is especially important with vulnerable populations, including the elderly. As more minority seniors are cared for by home health services, they will need aides who understand cultural diversity.

If you have a family member who is a minority senior, who will be receiving care from a home health agency, you can help them transition to in-home assistance in the following ways:

Understand the importance of cultural training.

Each family and culture has its own traditions, habits, and phobias. Your elderly loved one may have food preferences and household routines that seem normal to you but that are foreign or strange to people from other cultures.

If a nurse or other home health aide isn't familiar with your family member's quirks, the health care worker's confusion or distaste may cause a host of problems in their senior patient, ranging from hurt feelings to under eating. It's important that all caregivers are told about special cultural, dietary, housekeeping, and health care traditions in your home.

See your loved one as an outsider sees them.

As you begin the process of signing your loved one up for home health care, write down your concerns and observations about them as if you are a nurse from outer space. Pretend that you have had no exposure to your culture and that you are looking at your loved one for the first time.

What style of hair, clothes, dress, music, and TV do they prefer? Which language or languages do they speak? Do they prefer coffee or tea? Write down all of your loved one's preferences, even the weird ones, so that home health workers understand their patient's everyday life.

Write down recipes for ethnic foods, and provide guidance if your senior loved one wears traditional clothing that must be handled a certain way. Even if caregivers are not from the same culture, with adequate communication from you, they will be able to provide for your senior without misunderstandings or struggles.

Monitor caregivers to make certain they get it.

Meet with caregivers regularly to discuss issues and concerns, especially if your senior complains about having their routines disrupted or ignored. Home health care givers aren't always allowed to meet every demand a patient makes, but if your loved one is having simple requests denied, you need to find out if there may be a cultural clash that is causing the conflict.

If your senior eats breakfast with their cat every morning, or they have some other daily routine that means a lot to them, convey to caregivers why this behavior is so important. This helps build bridges between your senior and their aides, and it helps the home health aides understand the significance of accommodating your loved one.

Both the home health agency and your minority senior will be happier when expectations are communicated and simple needs are met.

For more information, contact a professional like those at Argus Home Health Care.