Caregivers Corner: Familismo and caregiving

Nicole M. Clagett Image
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

"Familismo" also known as cultural family values, is a crucial concept for Spanish-speaking communities, including Hispanic, Latino, Latina, and LatinX people. While the idea of caregiving may be similar across cultures, familismo acknowledges the distinct family structures and dynamics within these communities. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 75% of Latino caregivers are women who live with their children or grandchildren.

Katherine Ramos, Ph.D., assistant professor at Duke University, shares these strategies families can adopt:

  1. As a family, have discussions with - instead of around - your family member. How can you as a caregiver honor their wishes and invite them into the conversation?
  2. Discuss how your family can work in teams that can help with the diverse types and tasks of caregiving.
  3. Discuss how your family can rotate responsibilities. Look at preferred schedules, talents, and preferences when deciding who can best do what.
  4. Learn about various medical specialties that can help enhance your loved one's care. From senior centers to senior day care, from palliative care to hospice care, explore what services can strengthen your loved one's journey.
  5. Request information to be translated into Spanish so everyone in your loved one's family can be a part of the caregiving conversation.
  6. Know the medical team and their responsibilities. Take notes so you can keep up with who is doing what - and when.
  7. Engage in self-care, from spiritual care to memory-making to physical health. Many caregivers will share that this is easier said than done; however, by taking care of yourself, you'll remain stronger for your loved one.
  8. Identify those you can share with for your own mental health and emotional well-being.

Caregiving across cultures shares more than sacrifices and responsibilities. Each situation, whether personal or professional, whether challenging or smooth, includes its own unique set of gifts and memories. For more on familismo, watch Dr. Ramos' video in which she provides a general as well as personal overview of this important concept.

Caregivers, get connected with other caregivers for valuable support and resources. These resources are available at no charge: ABC11's Caregivers Corner Facebook group, access to Duke Health's 2022 virtual caregivers event, and this ABC11's Caregivers Corner website.