Culture and Traditions

Topics: Health care, Health care provider, Death Pages: 14 (3177 words) Published: January 10, 2013
Cultural Traditions and Healthcare Beliefs of Some Older Adults The following information is based on generalizations. Always note that there will be individual differences in patients and families. The cultural behaviours will also be affected by the acculturation process.

Information assembled from a variety of sources by Barbara Dixon, Manager, Diversity and Immigrant Student Support, Red River College, 2009 1

Older Patients of Arab and/or Muslim Origin
• Dietary issues are important for Muslim elders, because traditionally they do not drink alcohol, eat pork, or eat blood products. Lard is another avoided ingredient; baked goods and crackers are therefore examined for their content before consumption. Hospitalized Muslims may prefer to eat food prepared by their families in order to maintain dietary standards. Muslims may also resist eating or taking medications during the daytime hours of Ramadan, a holy month whose timing varies from year to year. Sick and elderly believers may be exempt from fasting during Ramadan, as some exceptions are made for frail individuals. Elderly persons of Arab origin may subscribe to folk remedies and beliefs. Beliefs may include concern about the evil eye - those who are envious may have the power to inflict injury on the family. Folk prevention measures, which include religious measures, are taken to divert the evil spirit to prevent harm.

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Tip for Nurses: Explore these issues gently with elderly patients and incorporate an understanding of traditional remedies into an overall care plan.

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Mental illness is one of the most feared medical conditions among Arab Muslims. Psychiatric issues are thought to arise from a loss of faith in God or possession by evil. Those suffering from “madness” are likely to seek the help of a religious intermediary or a fold healer and may neglect formal medical care. Among elderly persons of Arab origin and their families, mental illness may be considered a secret to be minimized, covered up, or denied. Traditionally, the young adult offspring’s chances of marriage are believed to be affected if family medical secrets are disclosed. Preventive medical treatment may be seen less important than treatment of acute symptoms of illness and injury. 2

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Older patients may expect prescription drugs to address their symptoms, but once the symptoms subside, they may discontinue their prescribed regimen. There is a belief in individual responsibility to obtain medical care but ultimately most believe that recovery from illness is in the hands of God.

Tip for Nurses: Provide an explanation to patients about why extended medication use is necessary. Negotiate with the patient may be necessary to promote adherence to long-term drug regimens.

In Arab tradition, family members are obligated to visit and bring gifts to hospitalized elderly persons, and therefore may not wish to adhere to visitation restrictions in the hospital. Muslims practice and expect high standards of modesty and may also be embarrassed by personal questions. Cleanliness is another important aspect of Islamic tradition. After death, family members may have specific wishes regarding what is to be done with the patient’s body such as the ceremonial washing of the body by the family, wrapping the loved one’s body in sheets and immediate burial. “Good families” traditionally are considered capable of handling any health crisis – older family members may be hesitant to accept help from “outsiders”. Males in the family may be considered to have more authority with regard to medical decisions than females.

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Tip for Nurses: Ask older patients of Arab ancestry if they prefer to make their own health decisions or if they would prefer to involve or defer to others in the decision-making process.

In Arab countries, patients are typically told only the good news about their diagnosis.

Tip for Nurses: When there is...

References: American Geriatrics Society, Doorway Thoughts: Cross-cultural Health Care for Older Adults, Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury, Volume 1, 2004 and Volume 2, 2006. Andrews, Margaret M., Boyle, Joyceen S., Carr, Tracy Jean, Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2003. Bosher, Susan Dandridge, Pharris, Margaret Dexheimer, Transforming Nursing Education: the Culturally Inclusive Environment, Springer, New York, 2009., University of Washington, Harbourview Medical Centre, 1995-2009. Gropper, Rena C., Culture and the Clinical Encounter an Intercultural Sensitizer for the Health Professions, Intercultural Press, Inc., Yarmouth, 1996. Kato, Pamela M., Mann, Traci, Handbook of Diversity Issues in Health Psychology, Plenum Press, new York, 1996. Kelley, Mary Lebreck, Fitzsimons, Virginia Macken, Undertanding Cultural Diversity: Culture, Curriculum and Community in Nursing, Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury, 2000. Nydell, Margaret K., Understanding Arabs A Guide for Westerners, Intercultural Press, Yarmouth, 1996. Spector, Rachel E., Culture Care: Guides to Heritage Assessment and Health Traditions, Appleton & Lange, Stamford, Connecticut, 2000. Srivastava, Rani, The Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Clinical Cultural Competence, Mosby Elsevier, Toronto, 2007. Waxler-Morrison, Nancy, Anderson, Joan M., Richardson, Elizabeth, Cross-cultural Caring A Handbook for Health Professionals in Western Canada, UBC Press, Vancouver, 1990.
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