Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Elaine Acosta (Florida International University)
Caroline Quintero (California State University (Long Beach)
Marsha Vania (Independet Consultant)
Disparities have been noted in the amount and type of care provided by Latino families to persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Latino families are also less likely to access formal support systems. Working collaboratively with the local area agency on aging, we set out to better understand the experience of caregiving for persons with Alzheimer’s in the predominantly Latino community of Miami-Dade County and identify potential barriers to accessing assistance. We conducted extended interviews with twenty-four Latino caregivers and ten service providers. One of the emergent themes is the distinction between duty and obligation, and the role of love in providing care. Latino caregivers note a difference between care (things that you can hire other people to do) and caring (the extra things one does for a loved one). Care is not only physical and financial, but also emotional. Not surprisingly, Latinos report greater emotional stress compared to other racial/ethnic groups. This paper highlights the importance of emotional work and the gender attributes of care. In the context of migration and the diminishing role of extended family supports, care is provided (both formally and informally) predominantly by women who also work full-time. With more hours of care provided and more intensive caregiving needed, a nuanced understanding of the experience of care may help bridge the gap between services and those who need them. Developing a system that is responsive to caregiver needs and helping them access formal community support services is necessary in this changing climate of care.