Many Languages, One Goal: International Resources for Caregivers

Like many of you, I have the Olympics on the brain. Even without satellite or cable (yes, you read that right), I still find myself surrounded by Olympic buzz on the radio and Internet – a buzz infused with celebrated diversity. It’s a refreshing twist to today’s international tensions that are too-often characterized by volatility and intolerance. For just a brief time, we remember that friendly competition is possible and that we can be friends with those different from ourselves.

These multicultural musings also turn my thoughts to the international reality of caregiving. Though we often talk about caregiving in the United States, we don’t often consider the millions of additional caregivers around the world who are dealing with globally common caregiving concerns as well as culture-specific challenges.

Another under-recognized circumstance is extreme long-distance caregiving. Our mobile society has created situations wherein caregivers are caring for parents and grandparents who live in another country. Many of you know how difficult it can be to find caregiving resources in your own community; imagine trying to find help across the globe!

© David Ibiase
© David Ibiase

If you or someone you know needs multicultural or international caregiving resources, here are some suggestions:

Check for materials in multiple languages. I’ve had good luck searching the websites of organizations dedicated to specific diseases. For instance, the Alzheimer’s Association offers its website in several languages (look for the dropdown box in the upper right-hand corner of its home page) and has translated specific materials into 18 different languages! Find those materials by clicking here. Similarly, the American Cancer Society offers its website in Spanish and catalogues many of its materials in a variety of Asian languages (again, see the upper right-hand corner of its website to access).

Search Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).  This is my go-to website when a family needs help in another country. This powerful federation connects Alzheimer’s-related organizations from around the world. To find an organization, click here. Listings include addresses, phone numbers, and more. For instance, clicking on Cyprus reveals that the country has an organization called the Pan Cyprian Association of Alzheimer’s Disease (cool!) and lists its address, phone number, fax number, and an email address. Many countries’ organizations also have websites.

Consult the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (IAHSA). Founded in 1994, IAHSA is a global network of providers of aging and caregiving services. Your best bet is to contact the appropriate chapter found here. While chapters currently only exist in Europe, China, and the United States, it’s still a good start to finding aging services in faraway places.

I’d love to hear where else you’ve found international and multicultural resources to bolster your caregiving abilities. Please share them here, for you never know when your advice will help a fellow caregiver in a similar challenging situation.

One more thought. The resources described above come in many languages, but they have a common goal: to help caregivers with their very difficult jobs and to let them know they are not alone. So when you watch the Olympics and all of its glitz and sparkle, take a moment to remember that each of those countries in the competition has caregivers who are hopeful, hardworking, and ever resourceful, just like our caregivers right here.

Comments

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  • Carrie, I'm wondering if you are aware of differences in the attitudes, experience and the way caregiving happens in other areas of the world. For instance in some cultures living with an extended family is the norm. I would imagine it would be common that a family member who is very ill, or even terminally ill, is looked after by many in the family at home. Such a thing may be an expected and natural occurrence for them while here in the states dying at home may be still more of a lucky break or a novelty. I’m just guessing, but I'd be interested in what you have seen. Or do you think it is all pretty much the same across the board?

  • In reply to ijwoods:

    Dear ijwoods,

    Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I absolutely think that caregiving choices and practices are shaped by cultural values and that the way that caregiving occurs around the world varies widely. That being said, I think there are some universal qualities among caregivers that make caregiving resources necessary around the globe. Online communities for caregivers make it possible for caregivers from different parts of the world to connect, compare notes, and support each other from different perspectives, which hopefully enriches the experience for both parties involved.

    Take good care,
    Carrie

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    Dear Carrie,
    Thank you for this informative article, it is helpful to have someone open up this conversation on a topic that is becoming more common by the day.
    I live in Hawaii where many people have elders back in the mainland, including Chicago of course, as well as over seas, particularly in Asian countries. Holding our world together is quite a task for many these days and long distance caregiving truly needs more attention.
    Aloha,
    Martha Love

  • Dear Martha,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I agree that long-distance caregiving is only going to become more prevalent, which means that relevant, accessible services are all the more necessary. I do hope that there are some good programs in place in Hawaii to help those in the situations you described.

    Take good care,
    Carrie

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