Death is natural and growing old is inevitable. You brush off your first white hair and then it turns into trying to smooth out a wrinkle and next thing you know, your own family is starting to wonder what they are going to do with you.

Each ethnicity and culture has its own standards on whether or not putting old folks into nursing homes is acceptable. 

Growing up in a Mexican household, I always understood that family takes care of family. 

However, residential homes may be the only option for some families. Members may not be able to dedicate their time to care for aging relatives. 

Others are not so willing to leave their loved ones in the care of just any stranger and creating a disconnection with the rest of the family. 

More than 77% of white individuals use nursing homes compared to 14.2% of blacks, 5.3% of Hispanics and 1.7% of Asians across the United States, according to a 2015 Nursing Home Data Compendium data collection.

“I’m Mexican and usually we’re supposed to take care of our family members,” kinesiology senior Silvia Huerta said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard about there being any nursing homes in Mexico. Family members just take turns taking care of their older relatives.”

As Huerta said, within Mexican culture, younger generations are expected to care for their elders when they grow old. 

Being Mexican myself, nursing homes were never even a thought that crossed my family’s mind. 

My aunts and uncles would switch off to watch over my grandparents before my mother arrived to do her part. 

As tedious as it was for my mother to stop working and go to Mexico, she did it because she loved them and knew she had to take care of her parents. 

For others, retirement homes are the only option. Some people may not have an extended family who can take care of them on a day-to-day basis. 

Taking care of a loved one requires a lot of attention and assistance to bathe, change and feed them.

San Jose resident Geraldine Cayabo explained how she and her family would take turns caring for her Lola, grandmother in Filipino culture, but realized they had to make a change.

“We did it for a pretty long time but at some point, everyone got super busy and all the cousins grew up and got jobs. No one was able to stay home to look after her, so the adults decided a nursing home was the best idea,” said Cayabo. 

The average cost of retirement homes in the United States is about $8,121 per month for a semi-private room, according to Retirement Living. 

Financial reasons are one aspect that must be taken into consideration as nursing homes tend to be expensive. 

This financial separation could create disadvantages for minorities. It is less accessible and reasonable to use the money toward paying someone to watch over their loved one when they could do it themselves at home without paying thousands of dollars. 

Whether a culture deems nursing homes to be acceptable, it is up to the family to decide if they wish to have older relatives live in nursing homes. 

As much as my parents annoy me, I would want to follow their footsteps of taking care of their mother and father when they needed it. 

In the end, they were lucky enough for my grandparents to nurture and take care of them as children, the least they could do is return the favor after those painful adolescent years.

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