Though the country may arguably still have a long road ahead before reaching a state of true equality, Concord Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing is happy to be a part of the national trend toward cultural sensitivity. The simple elimination of segregation, outright discrimination, and hostility is not sufficient for creating a comfortable and inclusive environment for all deserving seniors; it is also our duty to consider the subtler ways in which we can recognize and respect the diversity and cultures of our incoming patients.

Ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity in the United States continues to evolve to the point that the concept of “minority” now has a different meaning in our country. As our nation faces the beginning of the greatest swell in the elderly population in history, we are also simultaneously witnessing the greatest ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity we’ve ever known. While it is true that the aging are not currently the most diverse demographic in our society, that group is more diverse than it has ever been before, and they have enjoyed a much broader network of diversity in their lives.

All of this diversity means that our public and private service institutions must have a greater awareness of and appreciation for cultural differences. This affects not only the way that we treat individuals directly, but also the activities we plan, the holidays that we do and don’t observe, and the references and assumptions that we make when interacting with our patients. Keeping abreast of cultural values, histories, and current events can help us better forge meaningful and therapeutic relationships with our patients.

Age is a universal equalizer, and we find that our elderly patients have much more in common than that which they don’t. They also all have the same right to comfort, warmth, and familiarity. This extends not only to a lack of overt discrimination, but also to a thoughtful sensitivity for the elements of the long, rich, and complex lives they’ve led before arriving at our doors.