Our familia can be great caregivers but they shouldn’t do it alone. Ten Holiday Tips for Caregivers.

{Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with AARP. All opinions are my own.}

There’s something I’ve watched happen in my family time after time. I’ve watched cousins care for my aunts and uncles as they age and become ill with various conditions. I’ve watched my aunts and uncles care for my grandparents, too. It’s so common for mi familia that I’ve never questioned the process. In the Latino community, this is what happens. No one ever talks of assisted living or nursing homes. The question becomes who will mom and/or dad live with when they are no longer able to live on their own.

I’ve personally only been the primary caregiver to my two young boys. However, when I was pregnant with my first son, I worked from home and lived 15 minutes from my grandparents. During that time, my grandfather was suffering from diabetes, a heart condition, and eventually his kidneys failed, too. My grandmother was his primary caretaker. I’d spend many days with them as I would drive them into the city to their doctors’ appointments or just stay at their home to keep them company.

Circulo de la Vida Grandpa and my son QueMeansWhat.com

After my son was born, we moved about an hour away from my grandparents for my husband’s job. Mis abuelitos weren’t alone. My uncle lived with my grandparents but worked a full-time, and at times, very demanding job. He helped and supported them tremendously yet he wasn’t able to be there during the day. I knew my grandma needed support to care for my grandpa. (She had her own health concerns.) Maybe it was because I missed them or maybe it was because I wanted my son to get to spend as much time with them as possible, I would pack up a week’s worth of clothes and diapers and my son and I would go stay at their home. And just try to help where we could. My son brought all the smiles and I offered as much support as I could.

Experiencing a glimpse of the toll it took on my grandma made me realize how much work it is to take care of someone who has fallen ill. I also realized how common my family’s situation is and how much addressing the needs of the caretaker is overlooked.

Today, it is my husband’s side of the family that is facing the health challenges of mi suegra. She lives with my sister-in-law. While my husband and I can offer all the support, help, and pretty much anything else she asks, we know my sister-in-law will ultimately be the primary caregiver as mi suegra lives in her home. All our kids are watching us now, it’s important that we support the entire family so they see that one person doesn’t burden all the responsibility.

Latinos as Caregivers

I’m sharing resources with her and with you because you, too, probably know of a caregiver who needs support. Or you ARE the caregiver who needs support. There are 42 million caregivers in the U.S. who are caring for parents and older loved ones. As we all know, during the holidays, stress can increase and that’s especially true for caregivers, many who are Latino.  More than one in three Hispanic households includes a caregiver according to research conducted by Evercare and the National Alliance for Caregiving, and Hispanic caregivers report more intensive caregiving situations compared to the general population (63 percent compared to 51 percent). During the holidays our hermano/as are caring for their loved ones as well as trying to make the holiday season meaningful and shop for gifts – usually more than one list (theirs and their loved one’s).

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that family members taking care of their parents in mi familia was so common, I never questioned it. That could be because, according to research by AARP, most Latinos don’t identify themselves as caregivers. Instead, as Evercare data notes, caring for an older parent or relative is seen as an expected cultural responsibility. And when we view it as our responsibility, we are less likely to ask for help.

Resources for Caregivers

It’s okay to seek help – at any level that you may need it. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with AARP’s Circulo de la Vida resource center. Please visit: http://prn.to/1wQ3iTF (Spanish) or http://prn.to/10Mmrg5 (English). You will find stories in which you may relate, tips from experts, news for caregivers and even local resources. For example, below are 10 Holiday Tips for Caregivers (you can find the full article from AARP here.)

  1. Recognize the signs of stress and burnout
  2. Anticipate your own holiday hot buttons
  3. Mind your own mind-set
  4. Keep self-care at the top of the list
  5. Know your own best stress outlets
  6. Connect with support
  7. Plan ahead and focus on what is most meaningful
  8. Ask for help for yourself and those you care for
  9. Simplify your holiday activities
  10. Start new traditions

While these tips are for the holidays, caregiving happens all year-round. Visit AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center for more information, support and resources. If you prefer to talk to someone, you can call AARP Phone: 1-877-333-5885 (1-888-971-2013 in Spanish) Monday-Friday: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. ET Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET. Don’t let caregivers do it alone. Our familia can be great caregivers but they shouldn’t do it alone.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

36 Responses

  1. Great resources for caregivers. I love that picture of your son and dad! So sweet!

  2. Debbie Denny says:

    I have never looked at it as anything other than loving my family. I hope someone cares enough for me.

  3. Pam says:

    Up until recently, I was a caregiver for my father. It was great to be able to help, but it was also very stressful and took a toll on me!

  4. Maggie says:

    being a caregiver can be a ver lonely and stressful job. I’m so glad there are resources out there!

  5. Catherine S says:

    This sounds like a great resource. I have a lot of respect for caregivers. It can be extremely hard to care for someone all alone.

  6. Mitch says:

    Yes, this sounds like a great idea, this seems to be a group we forget. Thanks for sharing this list!

  7. Krista says:

    These are some great resources! Thank!

  8. 3sonshavei says:

    That is great to
    Love so close to parents and they won’t tell us Jo so these are important tips

  9. We took care of my grandpa at home for about 6 months. It was an honor to be his caregiver, but thankfully we had help. I don’t know what we would have done without the extra hands!

  10. Kristin says:

    These are really useful tips. Even though family can be great caretakers sometimes it’s better to get the help of trained professionals.

  11. Pam says:

    My mom was caregiver for my Dad at this time last year and she really became quite stressed and ended up in the hospital. Thankfully my Dad is now in a wonderful retirement home and my mom is just blocks away and visits him daily. They both are doing well and are happy and healthy but we did learn a lesson from this.

  12. Danielle says:

    I haven’t had to be a caregive yet to anyone other than my son. I am however in nursing school so I guess I care for my patients. But I know I will have to care for my parents.

  13. These are some great tips! I agree, keep self-care at the top of the list!

  14. Megan Elford says:

    You know, I never really thought about it, but in our family as well, there has never been talk of nursing homes. I can’t imagine leaving our parents or grandparents in the care of strangers. But at the same time, you’re absolutely right — the caregivers need someone to take care of them too!

  15. Nina Say says:

    recognizing stress and burnout is so very important. Letting those two get to you can really take a toll.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Being a caregiver is so hard. I used to be a respite worker for families with alzhiemers and it was hard to see the toll it took on them.

  17. Lois Jones says:

    Great resources and tips!

  18. Liz Mays says:

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a plan ahead of time. That PSA is so sweet!

  19. Chrysa says:

    What a list of great tips for caregivers. IT is so important to not forget about those caring for loved ones at the holidays and all year long.

  20. Rosey says:

    I think it’s WONDERFUL that it’s a normal cultural expectancy. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate ( I cannot express enough ‘hates’ for this one) that it’s viewed as a burden to care for an elderly parent in our family. I can only hope my kids won’t feel that way someday if I need them, oy!

  21. Latoicha says:

    These are great resources for caregivers. As my mom was ailing, I needed support to get through the day. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    These are all great tips for caregivers. It is such a difficult job to take care of a loved one. I hope everyone has a great Holiday.

  23. I wish more people were like that…taking the responsibility to care for their elders. It is a huge responsibility that does come with burnout, especially when issues, such as Alzheimer’s, play a role.

  24. Kendra says:

    These are great resources for helping people. My sister and I are starting to have some of the same discussions about my mother now. I think it’ll be sooner rather than later when she’ll live with us.

  25. Having a strong support system is so important. The internet helps with that by making support systems and groups easier to find.

  26. Krystal says:

    Caregivers are so selfless. It is truly a blessing to take care of our elders.

  27. christina aliperti says:

    These are wonderful tips. My mom and I took care of my grandmother who had parkinson’s and alzheimers until the day she died at home with us. We never would have put her in a nursing home.

  28. Thank you for the tips on caregivers. I have a friend to forward this to now.

  29. What a beautiful photo of your grandfather & son. A caregivers job is a hard one. People often forget how hard it is for them. Great tips.

  30. Christie says:

    Simplifying and starting new definitely ring home with me. It can get very stressful caring for others during the holidays

  31. This was great info. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Liz Mays says:

    It’s so important to remember to take care of ourselves when we’re caring for others. It can be exhausting both physically and emotionally, so we need to put ourselves first sometimes.

  33. Debi says:

    Great resources. My mom is the caregiver for my Grandmom and it is so hard for her. It can get overwhelming.

  34. Crystal says:

    Very informative! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Becca Wilson says:

    Awesome resources. Some people dont even know where to start looking~

  36. Eliz Frank says:

    This season can be a tough time for families and it’s important to keep these caregiver tips in mind. Happy Holidays!

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