I've noticed a difference in how Latinos regard their parents compared to non-Latinos.
Of course, this is not true for all Latinos or all non-Latinos, but it's moreso a pattern I've observed over the years. The difference is in the way we think our parents should be cared for as they're aging.
It seems as Latinos, we feel a responsibility over our parents' well-being, health, and even their general state of happiness. We want to take care of them just as they cared for us. Sometimes we take on this responsibility full-time as caregivers, other times it's a part-time role we play.
I know of people, myself included, who not only ensure their parents are up-to-date on their medical care, but also go so far as to drive them to appointments. We check up on our parents regularly, know their health history, ask questions of the doctors, and advise on care decisions.
When it comes to our parents' general well-being, we even feel a responsibility to make them happy. If our parents are unable to drive or don't have the financial resources to regularly pay for outings, we often take them along on trips and various functions. In essence, we make sure they have fun and are entertained.
All of this can get complicated if we have children still at home, particularly young children. I believe it's fair to say that children typically become caregivers for their parents after their own kids are out of the house. When the two roles meet - parenting young children and caring for aging parents - it gets tricky to balance your life.
You can imagine how challenging it can be to care for your children, provide all they need on a daily basis, manage the household and all associated duties, and regularly help or provide care for your parents. Notice I did not even mention caring for yourself, something we as women all too often neglect.
Yet, for many Latinos of my generation, it is unimaginable to even think of not helping our parents as they age. It's just the right thing to do. We don't often consider outside help until it's painfully obvious it's needed. Nursing home? "Claro que no!" [Of course not!]
Taking care of aging parents can be a challenging, but rewarding experience. While I don't provide full-time care, I currently provide a supportive role to my mother, who cares for my father. It truly is hard to imagine either of them in a nursing home.
Have you cared for your parents or believe you will when the time comes?
Melanie Edwards is the founder and editor of ModernMami.com, an award-winning lifestyle blog, and owner of Ella Media, whose focus is to connect businesses with today’s digital Latina. Married 9 years, Melanie is the proud mother of a 6-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy, who are being raised in a bilingual, multicultural environment. Originally from Puerto Rico, Melanie now resides in Orlando, Florida.