Aging Healthy is Diverse

We are all aging from the time we are born but managing aging is diverse. For different cultures managing recuperation from illness varies especially as it relates to pain. The Brits are taught from an early age to “Have a stiff upper lip” while we Americans have heard over and over, “No pain, no gain.” Italians just started discussing some medical issues within the family like breast cancer within the last generation, and they pray about it.  Collective societies like the Chinese all pitch in to get the best result. Mexicans tend to take care of themselves, and along with Blacks, look to their places of worship to get through difficulties. My source for this information, besides my own experiences, came from Mehrotra Wagner’s book, “Aging and Diversity.” Of course there are differences among many within their own ethnic groups but the point is that we should be considering their differences.

Too often we see medical practitioners and long-term care agencies handling everyone the same way. There are movements to change this within the Ageing field. For instance, The Jewish Home in San Francisco is a good model. They not only cook for their clients’ cultures and beliefs but offer counseling and religious services within the perameters of their Jewish faith.

Other considerations to be made are that some have hearing and sight deficits, but not all. Simply because a person has gray hair isn’t a reason to talk louder, for instance. I say it all the time that we shouldn’t assume anything. If a person can’t talk doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain. Stroke victims may be able to blink once for “yes” and twice for “no.” We shouldn’t assume that they can’t communicate because they can’t talk.

By learning about the ethnicities of the diverse people we are caring about, and caring for, we may be able to take te pain threshold down a notch. At least we can all try.

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