Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Elderly Muslims, Few Options Outside the Home - NYTimes.com

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Nazli Currim lived for 14 years at the intersection of tradition and frustration. After her father died, her mother moved into Ms. Currim’s home. She cared for her mother full time, even after a stroke six years before she died.

Ms. Currim, 69, founder of the American Muslim Women’s Association, never considered finding a nursing home for her mother. Her attitude is common among Muslims in the United States, many of whom are reluctant even to consider placing an aging family member in a facility.

Part of that decision was a personal one, but part of it was practical: It is difficult for Muslims to find nursing homes and assisted living facilities that reflect their way of life.

Cultural competence has become a buzzword as adult children seek elder care solutions that acknowledge an older person’s cultural and religious identity. But the Muslim community faces a particular challenge. The elderly segment of that population is quite small, representing “only 0.5 percent of our American Muslim population,” according to Aneesah Nadir, president of the Islamic Social Services Association U.S.A., based in Phoenix. “Most of the elders of those who have immigrated here are still overseas. We’re a youthful population.”

Older parents who do come to the United States often live an insulated existence. “They don’t speak the language, so people can’t communicate with them,” said Ms. Nadir. For them, life in a majority of residential facilities would be an alien experience.
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