Current theoretical constructs on the utilization of formal support for Latino caregivers focus on familism and exclude the cultural values represented in the service system. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the experience of care for Latino family caregivers to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). We also examine the cultural congruence between provider perspectives with the expectations of Latino ADRD caregivers.
We conducted extended interviews with 24 Latino ADRD caregivers and 10 service providers. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed using a grounded theory approach.
Our study provides a deeper understanding of Latino caregiving experiences and highlights some of the structural and systematic issues in current systems of caregiver support. While Latino families have very specific notions of care, by upholding notions of familism, there is a tendency to not look deeper into how they may be better supported in caregiving and fall into the “culture trap.” The assumption that family should be the natural support network for older adults may lead to health and social systems of care to ignore the specific needs of the Latino population.
Services are being provided under a model that was established four decades ago and may not reflect current realities. The concept of “an ethics of care” allows us to move beyond familism and explain that underutilization of services may also be due in part to the cultural incongruence between what service providers offer and the perceived needs of Latino caregivers.