The Latinos’ are a significant cultural group in the United States. The group makes up nearly 16% of the population in the United States. Projections show that the Latinos will increase to around 30% come the year 2050 (Juckett, 2015).The Latinos are a diverse ethnic group that encompasses a wide array of traditions, races, and nationalities. Also, they have diverse social, economic, and geographical backgrounds. Research shows that Latinos can be different relying on their family heritage of national origin (Medina & AETC 2014). The Latino cultures make them different from other American cultures, however, their language has been identified as a major hindrance to attaining better healthcare.
Culture’s heritage background
Often, the term Hispanic is used to denote people of Latino ethnicity in the United States. This term was introduced in the year 1970’s Us Census Bureau. The introduction of the Hispanic term was a method of classifying the Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Cuban immigrants. However, the term has grown to incorporate other ethnic groups individuals from Spain and Latin America. They have one of the most diverse cultures in the world. The group celebrates its cultural heritage every September 15th. The date was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the independence of the five Latin American countries namely; Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala (Juckett, 2015).
Characteristics of the Latino Americans
The majority of Latino Americans are integrated into the suburban and rural communities in the entire United States of America. Statistics show that nearly 23% of the Latinos in the United States live in low socio-economic status. Majority of them come from multi-ethnic and multi-racial countries with diverse origins (Fernandez, et al. 2016). The most common ancestry is the indigenous or rather Native Americans. The majority of the undocumented ones have not had access to education and proper healthcare. However, since the year 1982, the law has allowed them to access K-12 education. The most common and basic social unit of the Latinos is the nuclear family even though there are families that still have extended families. Within their social structures, family members offer emotional, social, and even financial aid to one another. The family structure is largely patriarchal and follows a strict hierarchical structure (Medina & AETC 2014). Family separation is a major problem faced by Latino immigrants. During the migration process into the United States, there are scenarios during the journey where families are separated. Also, when families are in the process of illegally migrating into the United States they face numerous challenges such as discrimination and even serving jail term. Research has also shown that some of the undocumented Latin children and illegal alien parents experience depression and family maladaptive syndrome (Juckett, 2015).Due to family separation, Latin children are often at risk of emotional trauma, anti-social behavior and crime. Parents who leave their children and homeland behind also experience a wide range of mental health challenges. Immigrants who are found undocumented in the United States are often at risk of being detained or deported. Regarding religion, most of them are Roman Catholics but others are also Protestants.
Differences seen Latin Americans if acculturated or assimilated in the U.S.
Juckett (2015) notes that the impact of acculturation of Latino is complex and at times not successful. The researchers add that people who are undergoing acculturation are often under high degrees of stress. Some of the challenges experienced by the Latinos when acculturating comprise of lowered mental health status such as confusion, depression and anxiety. Also, many experience feelings of alienation and marginalization, increased psychosomatic symptoms and identity confusion. Acculturation usually occurs in terms of social structure, political organization and economic base. On the individual level, the transformations encompass changes in individual behavior, attitudes and values (Al Shamsi et al. 2020).
Health and Illness Beliefs Latinos definition of health and illness
There is enough evidence showing that the Latinos, especially the ones from Mexican and Central American origin encounter notable challenges when it comes to obtaining healthcare. A major cause of this challenge is due to language barriers. Majority of the Latinos expect the healthcare providers to be friendly to them and appreciate it when they are treated with dignity (Fernandez, et al. 2016). Usually, many Latino patients looking for medical care only do so after seeking help from family resources. They consider health issues to be a family matter and often involve their family members and relatives when one gets sick. Also, most of them hold fatalistic views; considering that illness is God’s will or a divine punishment that has been imposed on them by God due to current or previous sinful behavior (Medina & AETC 2014).
Alternative health care practices
There is a wide array of remedies and alternative healthcare practices practiced by the Latinos in the United States. One of the most common traditional medicines is the botánica. The medicine is believed to treat physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional health. Basing on a study conducted by Al Shamsi et al (2020), the researchers note that latino immigrants will usually seek the services of a botánica before trying out mainstream care. Traditional healers also prescribe herbs and natural ailments for a broad range of illnesses. On the other hand, majority of the practitioners within these communities provide spiritual counseling and cleansing rituals while treating different kinds of mental health challenges and stressors. There are concerns with some alternative medicines if integrated with western medical treatment. However, there are others which are safe to use with western medicines. Due to this, the world health organization and other healthcare organizations encourage the use of alternative medicines, but only those that have been approved as safe to use. Furthermore, in life-threatening conditions, anointing of the sick is always practiced (Al Shamsi et al. 2020).
Medical decision making
Healthcare decision making among the latinos is quite challenging due to difference in culture, language and level of education. Since their community is highly partriarchial, the decisions are often by the head of the family who is usually the father or any man who is the bread winner. Women are also involved but the head of the family who is the man has to be consulted. The group differs from others due to the information that they seek and decision making authority that they wish to practice. The religion and faith also plays a critical role in their decision making (Juckett, 2015).
B. Transcultural Health Care Issue
The chosen transcultural healthcare issue affecting the Latinos is language barrier. Many healthcare facilities in the United States lack professional interpreters thus providing care to this minority group is always a challenge. When presented with a Latin patient, many hospitals depend on ad hoc interpretation by stuff who is able to speak Latin or even rely on children who know the language. Additionally, the challenge of misinterpretation also affects how the Latino Americans are treated in hospitals within the United States. Due to the barriers in communication and poverty among the Latino, they fail to attain the standard quality of care. Due to the lack of appropriate care, research shows that the Latinos have inexplicably higher rates of illness particularly diabetes and obesity. Due to these language barrier challenges, many Latinos often prefer seeking medical health in outside sources such as traditional healers. A study conducted by Al Shamsi et al (2020) reveals that half of the Latinos who face language barrier challenges when trying to access healthcare challenges often to family members of other healthcare providers for help. Many Latinos prefer seeking health services from hospitals that have a staff member who speaks their language. This is common among older Latinos who seek nursing home or assisted living facilities. Through these examples, it is apparent that many Latinos are not satisfied with the kind of health care that they are being offered. Therefore, the best thing that can be done to the group and by the group is education. It is important that the Latinos try and seek education, particularly in language so that they can be in a position of communicating well when visiting healthcare facilities. Also, they can practice seeking someone who understands their language, for instance, a family member to act as an interpreter when they are seeking health care. The government can also try and employ professional interpreters in all the healthcare facilities so that language cannot be a barrier to providing quality healthcare (Medina & AETC 2014).
Culturally Competent/Sensitive Care
Nurses should practice diversity while offering care particularly to minority groups living in the United States. When providing culturally sensitive care to the Latinos, nurses out to understand their culture and know the different issues that are acceptable and the ones that are not acceptable in the Latino culture (Fernandez, et al. 2016). For instance, it is important for healthcare providers to understand that Latino families are highly patriarchal and thus female nurses should understand how to address male Latino patients. It is also imperative for healthcare providers to show respect to adults, they should also understand and comply with the patients’ and family gender roles according to the Latino culture. Health issues are highly considered to be a family affair among the Latinos and thus healthcare providers should always try and involve the family as a resource in providing the appropriate care (Juckett, 2015). The information on how to care for the Latinos can be shared through medical forums, workshops, healthcare education institutions, and even through articles that can be published on healthcare institutions’ websites.