The characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.
Merriam Webster, Definition - Culture
Culture is a social construct that is constantly changing and growing. It shapes relationships and determines how we make sense of the world and our place. It shapes our everyday actions and experiences.
As a support group facilitator, it is important to understand how culture can affect an individual’s experience in their everyday life and within a support group setting. Culture affects how Alzheimer’s disease is understood and experienced by an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones. The journey of Alzheimer’s disease is not a ‘one size fits all," and as long as people are safe, each journey should be equally respected.
Socioeconomic status, gender, age, cultural/ethnic traditions, values/beliefs, minority status, degrees of acculturation and assimilation are all be factors that impact how families react to the aging and dementia and play a critical role in deciding how individuals are cared for by their loved ones. Within a support group, there will be differences in techniques, lifestyles, and approaches that will be shared. An approach that is ‘right’ for a family, may not be ‘right’ for another. As a group facilitator, it is best to maintain the thought that there is no right way to experience dementia or care for a loved one, but allow each individual’s experience to be shared. Everyone is there to engage and learn from one another. Here are some other tips about approaching diversity:
Become Aware and Acknowledge of Your Own Implicit Bias
This is a part of human nature. During childhood, we grew up in a culture saturated with stereotypes and biased representations of groups that differ from our own. Overcoming implicit bias can be minimized by challenging your current negative biases, being empathetic, and engage in dialogue. The ideology of being colorblind can be minimizing to someone’s lived experience. It is important to find opportunities to learn more about others that our impact as a facilitator can be greatly improved.
Do Not Be Afraid to Ask Questions
There is always a respectful way to inquire about something with which you are not familiar. Education is key.
Cultural Competency Training
With a simple online search, cultural competency courses can be found and may be reimbursed by your organization.