IMMIGRANT CARE: Nursing Home Dilemmas Especially Hard on Hispanics, Asians
The front page of today's Los Angeles Times details the "agony" immigrant populations are facing as increasing numbers turn to nursing homes to care for their elderly parents. While this is a difficult decision for almost anyone, the Times reports that "it can trigger a deep sense of guilt -- or an enduring stigma -- when [an immigrant] becomes the first in a family to be admitted" to a nursing home. Among many immigrant communities, particularly Hispanic and Asian, placing a relative in a nursing home is seen "as a kind of familial treason," but experts say as these groups "become more Americanized, a number of factors will make it more difficult to keep older relatives at home." The initial decision is sometimes not the hardest part, though. The Times reports that often Asian or Hispanic nursing home patients find they are the only member of their ethnic group in residence. According to 1996 state figures, about 77% of nursing home residents are white, 9% are Hispanic, 8.5% are black and 4.8% are Asian. Experts say the sense of isolation felt by minorities can be particularly severe, especially if they do not speak English or "have their staple foods available." UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging Director Fernando Torres-Gil said the growing numbers of Hispanics and Asians entering nursing homes -- two groups with a "special aversion" to nursing home care -- "may push legislators to more closely examine in-home care alternatives" that could be "more cost-effective" and "humane" (Becerra, 2/4). Click nursing home care or immigrant care for previous CHL coverage of these issues.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.