Multicultural dementia care

    Care and implementation for older migrants with dementia

    Publication date: 01 September 2014

    Dementia among migrants is an increasingly topical issue. Often elderly migrants with dementia lose their possibilities to speak Dutch during the ever progressing process of dementia and they (partly) relapse to their native language. Care workers are then unable to communicate in the language of the client, unless they speak the same language as the client. Research Centre Innovations in Care is researching as to how the welfare of, and health care for, older migrants with dementia should be shaped and realised.



    The first generation of migrants is becoming increasingly older and some of them have come to depend on care outside the home situation. It appears from earlier research that informal carers of older migrants have strong opinions about the care for their relatives with dementia and keep this up for as long as possible. Accepting professional help is complicated by this conviction. At the same time, dementia is an issue that is surrounded by taboo and shame in some networks of older migrants. It is possible that the behaviour of the elderly person is misunderstood; sometimes as madness or being possessed.

    Elderly migrants with dementia become isolated, so that the signs of dementia are not recognised. When the situation has reached a state that care must be called in, the family may be afraid that others will reproach them that they don't care for the father or mother anymore. Also sometimes admission to a nursing home is indispensable. Ambulant and semi-institutionalised provisions (such as day treatment, activity centres or meeting centres for the elderly) are becoming increasingly important. With older migrants with dementia, the language barrier is a problem rather quickly. Assistance workers often do not speak the same language.

    Project description

    A practice-based study is being started by firstly conducting a literature study and an orientation in actual practice: which organisations are involved with multicultural care to elderly persons, which questions and difficulties play a part in the assistance provided to older migrants with dementia (for example with a Turkish, Moroccan, Surinam or Antillean background). In addition to these questions we wish to stress the cooperation between family care and professional care. As a part of this, students of the minor course Growing Old at Home started a project in September 2014 with the following research question: How should the welfare for and health care to older migrants with dementia within the ambulant or semi-institutionalised care be shaped and realised?

    Partial questions here are:

    • Which older migrants with dementia use these provisions?
    • How is the family involved in the care?
    • How do the relevant assistance workers handle this?
    • How does the family feel about the situation at home, where they can no longer care for their relative?
    • How can nurses and the paramedical disciplines contribute to the welfare of the older migrant with dementia?
    • How can this be anticipated in the home situation to see that the transition to the ambulant and semi-institutionalised care runs smoothly?

    Students will answer these questions through participant observation in ambulant and/or semi-institutionalised institutions for elderly with dementia. On the basis of this preliminary examination, a project proposition will be drafted for a larger research study.