271131 Is familism an ideal or a reality in the caregiving experiences of Mexican-origin women?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Carolyn A. Mendez-Luck, PhD, MPH , College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Vicente P. Lara, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Steven R. Applewhite, PhD, MSW , Graduate School of Social Work, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Familism refers to the strong extended family orientation of Latino families and individual members' commitment to serving the needs of the family. This study examined whether familism was an actual feature of Mexican-origin women's experiences caring for elderly loved ones. One-time qualitative interviews were conducted with 37 female caregivers on the story of becoming a caregiver, scope of caregiving, and beliefs about caregiving, health, and aging. Audio files were transcribed and entered into Atlas.ti to facilitate data analysis. Transcripts were repeatedly examined by two coders to reach agreement on thematic content. Two main themes emerged from the analyses. First, we found that women sacrificed for the perceived benefit of their elderly loved ones, conceptualizing sacrifice as personal losses to social and emotional health, including isolation, general suffering, and loss of happiness. The second theme was the dissonance between the idealized and the actual Mexican family. Caregivers described the ‘Mexican Family' as close knit, united, and loving—characteristics that they considered unique to the Mexican culture. However, almost all caregivers did not receive ongoing or regular support from their available family networks. This discordance may shed light on why Latina caregivers tend to use fewer formal supportive services compared to non-Latina caregivers; they are holding onto cultural values despite behaviors of their extended family networks that do not align with those values. More research is needed to examine how caregiver support programs can offer services that meet Latina caregivers' needs without creating conflicts with their values about family.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to 1) identify two conceptualizations of sacrifice; and 2) describe one or more discordant view between ideals of family support and actual experiences of family support.

Keywords: Caregivers, Latinas

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on this federally-funded grant that examines caregiving constructs among immigrant and U.S.-born Mexican men and women. My scientific interests have focused on elder caregiving in Mexica-origin families and the management of diabetes in home settings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.