“In our culture, we take care of our parents at home,” says Pilar Cook, a Latina who cares for her 80-year-old mother at her Westminster home.
Cook, together with her sister, has been caring for her mom for the last year after she began needing greater support and assistance. Cook is the sole breadwinner for the family and works full time while juggling the needs of her mom, using her vacation time for caregiving and medical appointments. Cook is among many Latinos in Greater Denver who encounter a variety of challenges upon taking on the role of caregiver. “It’s very stressful,” shares Cook. “There’s no central place to call and get connected to services, language is a big barrier, and medical care is scattered all over the city.”
A new Caregiver Project launched in 2013 is working to understand the unique challenges faced by Latino caregivers like Cook. The project is one of many efforts underway by the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado’s Colorado Latino Age Wave, a Rose Community Foundation initiative focused on the well-being of Metro Denver’s growing Latino older adult population. Focus groups with caregivers are helping identify promising practices and promote public policy changes that help reduce the stress on Latino family caregivers and their elders.
“Taking on the role of caregiver is a life-changing decision and many of us find ourselves overwhelmed,” explains Cec Ortiz, Colorado Latino Age Wave project manager. “Through the focus groups, we’ve encountered three dominant challenges faced by Latino caregivers – transporting elders to receive services, finding information about existing services and sheer exhaustion. We’ll be working to address each one of those over the coming months and years.” Stay tuned for a Caregiving Project summary report, including findings and recommendations, to be released in 2014.
Colorado Latino Age Wave is a multi year project of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, an initiative of Rose Community Foundation, in partnership with Hispanics in Philanthropy and with support from the Colorado Health Foundation and Community First Foundation.