We love our abuelos! Grandparents are very important in the Latino community. They are respected, revered and most of all loved as the nucleus of the family. Many of us have fond memories of our abuelitos as we were growing up, and some of us even into our adult years. Family is the epicenter of it all for Latinos, and our grandparents are the ones who hold it all together. They are the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families and their love for us is unconditional.
As our grandparents get older the roles begin to switch, we start taking care of them as they cared for us all those years. We remember how they were there for our most special moments – learning how to walk or talk, first days of school, making sure that our birthdays were full of love- and we hold those memories close to our hearts. Taking them to a nursing home, or seeking outside care for them are options that we do not even consider. We want our grandparents to age in their homes, surrounded by family and the same love that they always showed us. For these reasons, Hispanics are more likely to receive home-based informal care than the general population and the numbers of Hispanic caregivers is expected to continue growing.
Many people do not realize the stress that is often associated with being an informal caregiver. Often family members are not only taking care of the grandparents, they also have to take care of children if they have them, and they have full-time jobs and other responsibilities that they must adhere to. Many times informal caregivers are unaware of health challenges that their loved ones face or have limited resources in terms of education and support. Many times also grandparents are serving as caregivers for their own spouses and many times younger grandchildren.
On National Grandparents Day, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) wants to honor not only the important role that grandparents play in the Latino culture but also acknowledge the challenges that informal caregivers can face when taking on this role to care for their loved ones. On this day we want to reassure our commitment to our abuelitos so they can age in dignity and also emphasize our support and respect for caregivers nationwide. Without you, our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults would not be impossible to reach.