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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hispanics: Caregiving and Diabetes Research (Video 1:49 mins.)

As a hospice volunteer in Detroit nursing homes, it was not unusual for me to have regular contact with patients who had dementia. One patient named Raynell (pseudonym) is particularly memorable because she had both dementia and diabetes. This excerpt from my book “Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes,” describes how she attributes her diabetic symptoms of tingling and numbness in her legs to an imaginary man named Robert who was in love with her.

“Robert was an imaginary man who passionately loved Raynell, my eighty-year-old hospice patient. It could be said that he shared a room with Raynell and her three roommates. His presence demanded my attention many days when I went there to visit her. He stole sweetness from the moment by repeatedly pinching Raynell’s stout legs. He made her feet rise by pushing up her mattress. Strategically positioned near the foot of her bed, he escaped under it quite easily. That’s how Raynell explained the turmoil he caused her. I pulled up a chair in her world each week and made myself at home. While I respected her condition, often letting her take the lead in our discussions, I always remained mindful of my role as volunteer.“

© Frances Shani Parker

“Medical News Today” reports results of a study released by the United Health Group's Evercare® organization and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) with these results:

1) In America, more than one third of Hispanic households (36 percent) have at least one family member caring for an older loved one. This is a larger percentage than other U.S. households.

2) More than four in 10 Hispanic caregivers (41 percent) have changed their work situation either by cutting back on hours, changing jobs, stopping work entirely, or taking a leave of absence. This is compared to 29 percent among non-Hispanic caregivers.

3) Most Hispanic caregivers are taking care of loved ones with diabetes, including 23 percent of loved ones with a form of dementia.
A 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national examination survey indicated that Mexican Americans are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites

4) Reasons for Hispanic caregivng included family obligation (84%) and religion (93%).

This video titled “UMTV Latinos Living With Diabetes” showcases the Institute of Minority Health Education and Research founded by Patty Larraga.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog