Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cultural Traditions Affect Care for Elders

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cultural Traditions Affect Care for Elders

Article excerpt

Like a growing number of baby boomers, Janet Lane carries two titles, one corporate, the other personal. By day, she is director of communications at AARP in Washington. After hours, she is caregiver to her parents, a role that has increasingly occupied her time for two years.

Ms. Lane, a single divorced woman with no children and no siblings, is also an African-American. That puts her among the racial and ethnic groups included in a fascinating study AARP is releasing today on caregiving.

Called "In the Middle: A Report of Multicultural Boomers Coping with Family and Aging Issues," the study is the first of its kind to document the attitudes and behavior of caregivers from the perspective of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Some are sandwiched between dependent children and older family members. Others also care for nonrelatives.

The good news is that although many baby boomers find themselves squeezed by their multiple responsibilities, a majority say they are coping.

Yet a telephone survey of more than 2,300 Americans between the ages of 45 and 55 shows that nearly one-third - particularly Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans - feel heavily burdened, especially those with low incomes.

Although Asian and Hispanic families provide more personal care and financial support than other groups, almost three-quarters of Asians express guilt that they cannot do more. Two-thirds of Hispanics feel guilty, as do 54 percent of African-Americans. Non- Hispanic whites feel the least guilt - 44 percent - and express the most optimism.

"Latinos believe it's their personal responsibility to care for their parents, and that it should be done in the home," says Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for the National Council of LaRaza, a Hispanic advocacy group in Washington.

About 40 percent of Latinos contribute financially to help older family members, compared to 27 percent of the general public, Ms. …

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