Consider Cultural Differences When Hiring Outside Eldercare
Your elder and aide must be on the same page
When hiring an aide for your elder, you want to bring in someone who is compassionate, experienced, and understanding about the aging process. But the aide also has to be sensitive to any cultural differences that exist between them and your senior. Both your elder and the aide must be on the same page so they can get along and work together.
These specific cultural differences can be seen in food, language, religion, and even greetings. Some aides cook for their clients, and they're tempted to spice foods as they would if cooking for themselves. But the aide has to be told beforehand how your elder would like the food to be prepared so he or she knows to accommodate your elder’s tastes. This includes texture and temperature as well as flavor. And if there are any issues such as keeping a kosher kitchen or dietary constraints, they must be followed too.
Cultural differences are not always obvious by looks or dress or accent. Some aides are just not aware of cultural subtleties or exactly what is acceptable for their elder. It can be as simple as the greeting they share. Does your elder prefer to shake hands, get a hug, or give a kiss on the cheek? Maybe a kiss once on each cheek upon arrival is the norm. Make sure whatever is preferred is very clear. Sometimes speech patterns can be hard for both the elder and the aide to understand. Most cases can be dealt with by having each person speak more slowly to the other. They can also repeat questions and answers until they both truly understand what is being said by the other.
If there are any cultural misunderstandings, address them right away so that nobody’s feelings are hurt. Stick with the facts and remove the emotion to reach a harmonious resolution. Once an elder and an aide become angry at each other, it can be very hard to repair the relationship and move forward, so make sure that your aide has been trained about any specific needs of your elder and yourself as well.
A version of this blog appeared on Dr. Marion’s Web Site.
Published October 20, 2011