Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, induce caregivers already struggling to cope with the behavioral aberrations of dementia to constantly update their cultural construction of the disease because the outward symptoms used to interpret it are in constant flux. For ethnic minority caregivers, particularly, coping is a process of tracking a moving set of symptoms, making cultural sense of them across time, and negotiating a medical environment that can be hostile to them because of their "nonstandard" cultural health beliefs. In the midst of a constantly changing disease, achieving optimal communications with the medical establishment causes the ethnic minority caregivers to change their behaviors to better fit the expectations of the clinic, then retreat to their own cultural comfort zone only to continue oscillating between cultures for the duration of their caregiving responsibilities. Ethnic minority dementia caregiving is conceptualized here from an orthogonal perspective in which the moving elements of the ethnic minority dementia experience intersect in numerous ways and produce many coping strategy permutations corresponding to the evolving disease and its cultural constructs.
- Chronic disease progression
- Disease model