Effect of Acculturation and Mutuality on Family Loyalty Among Mexican American Caregivers of Elders

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Purpose: Informal family care for elders is conventional in Mexican American communities despite increasing intergenerational gaps in filial values. In our study, we explored whether acculturation and dyadic mutuality, as perceived by Mexican American family caregivers, explain the caregivers’ expectations of family loyalty toward elderly relatives.

Design: A nonexperimental, correlational design with convenience sampling was used in El Paso, Texas, from October 2007 to January 2008.

Methods: Three bilingual promotoras collected data from 193 Mexican American adult caregivers of community‐dwelling elders using three scales designed for Mexican Americans: the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans II‐Short Form, the Mutuality Scale, and the Expectations of Family Loyalty of Children Toward Elderly Relatives Scale. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to analyze the data.

Findings: Acculturation had a marginal effect (r= .21, p < .05), but mutuality presented a strong correlation (r= .45, p < .001) with the expectations of family loyalty toward elderly relatives. There was no significant correlation between acculturation and mutuality (r= .05).

Conclusions: Although Mexican American caregivers with strong Mexican orientation may have high expectations of family loyalty toward elderly relatives, mutuality exhibits more significant effects on expectations. Among Mexican Americans, mutuality between the caregiving dyad, as perceived by caregivers, may be a better predictor of filial values than caregivers’ acculturation alone.

Clinical Relevance: It may be useful to incorporate the dual paradigm of acculturation and mutuality into immigrant family care for elderly relatives.