Arab Primary Caregivers
Approximately 1.7 million Israeli citizens out of 8 million are from the Arab, Druze, Christian or Caucasian minorities. In the Arab population, older adults hold a position of deep respect and authority within the family structure. Older adults typically choose to remain in their homes and the responsibility of caring for them traditionally falls on either a daughter (often the youngest) or a daughter in law, for those with no daughters. The daughter will often not marry due to the expectation that she should commit herself to caring for her father or mother. If the daughter does marry, she must care for her parents even at the expense of her nuclear family.
Israeli-Arab populations differ from many other populations within the context of social structures, including caregiving. The family functions as the basic unit in Arab society and society emphasizes the role of men and older adults in the family hierarchy. Families strictly maintain confidentiality and privacy. The Arab population in general is on a low socio-economic level in Israeli society. Family members traditionally live in close proximity to one another and Arab populations typically live in the geographic periphery, far from existing service centers. It is very difficult to procure the services of a caregiver who is not a direct family member. Arab society views female family caregivers low in the family social structure. Primary caregivers typically have a poor level of education. This affects their ability to access and understand relevant information, integrate back into society, specifically concerning employment, and affects their reading skills (particularly in Hebrew and English). Primary caregivers may also have low self-confidence and feel disempowered, which causes difficulties with social integration.
There is great need for continuous physical, mental, and social support for family caregivers in the Arab population. Services need to address the challenges these women face such as health problems, loneliness, lack of social connection, social pressure, financial burden, and lack of self-fulfillment. There is a need for more information about the specific ailments of the individuals for whom they care and a larger skill-set to deal with the changing needs of the older adult. Additionally, there is a need for support for the caregiver after the older adult passes away to cope with this change in life and the integration back into society.
The program establishes a support, empowerment, and recreational center for family caregivers in the Israeli-Arab community. The center offers a set of holistic services for caregivers who are caring for individuals who qualify for long-term care benefits. The activities at the center will include social programs, support groups, and skill development classes. The center operates two afternoons each week and is based in community buildings (ie. day centers).
In 2017, the first pilot program was launched in the northern town of Shfaram – a community of Christian, Druze and Muslim Arabs.
- Reduce the physical and emotional burden
- Empower family caregivers
- Strengthen emotional resilience - sense of purpose, meaning and ability
- Consolidate professional communal support network
- Sense of belonging to the community
- Feels secure due to the presence of support network
- Increase in public awareness of the phenomenon of female Arab family caregivers
JDC-P2P, Association for Older Adults, Ministry of Welfare, regional/local welfare authority