When Mama reached her eighties, we assumed that she would move in with us but cardiac problems meant specialized support. In the Latino culture, it is expected that families bring their aging parents home when that time comes. So, was it okay to consider assisted living?
One of the fastest growing groups in the nation, elderly Latinos are estimated to number nearly 15 million in the next ten years. Some will have no choice but to live with family due to cultural and socio-economic barriers, particularly as more elders find themselves financially strained. Approximately one out of every 12 elderly Hispanics has no health insurance.
Elders with certain conditions, such as Alzheimer's or osteoperosis or cancer, can strain the household physically, emotionally and economically. About 21.4% of elderly Latinos have been diagnosed with diabetes which, if not managed, becomes a deadly condition.
Fortunately, Mama cherishes her independence and is happy in assisted living, as long as the family stays involved in her life. It's a win-win for our unique situation. Mama has constant supervision, regular programs designed by elder-care specialists, and plenty of contact with her loved ones.
When it's time for you to evaluate options, treat your elder parent with dignity and place their health and happiness above what others might think. Start the discussion before it's time; preparation and open dialogue can make the decision less traumatic and the transition more successful for all.
And if you're still unsure, vote with your heart.