Elderly Care Rests With Daughters Over Sons
24 March 2015
Aged Care Reviews
Are you facing the issue of caring for an elderly parent? If you are a woman, the future might not look great for you, even if you have brothers to help. Recent studies have clearly shown that men tend to leave aged care of parents to their sisters. The causes of this seem to be linked to existing sexism in family life, although a definite reason has not been found yet. While men are willing to take on the responsibility if required – this is only true if there are no female family members to take the burden.
A US-wide study has demonstrated that women tend to provide more care for parents than male siblings. This data was taken from part of the American Health and Retirement Survey, which was carried out in 2004. The survey focused on over 26,000 American citizens, who are 50 years old, and is undertaken once every two years. The statistics show that daughters will give care to their elderly parents, as much as they can. On the other hand, sons tend to decide how much care to give, depending on whether or not their female siblings are able to take responsibility.
If you are the daughter of aging parents, be aware that it is likely that you will spend as much as twice the time giving care to your parents, compared to your brothers. This will add up to around seven hours extra every month, on average. Sons give an average of 5.6 hours of care every month, while daughters provide 12.3 hours. These figures were reached by Angelina Grigoryeva, a doctoral student at Princeton University. After creating this picture of how sons and daughters actually share these duties, she presented her findings to the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, during a meeting.
With her findings, Grigoryeva noted that this data should be concerning for society. This is because many women are already in charge of more “hidden” domestic duties than their male counterparts. Naturally, the findings are only true for families with both male and female children. However, she believes that daughters provide more care when they have male siblings, while their brothers will give less care, if there is a woman to take the responsibility from them.
The amount of care that can daughters can give to an aged parents depends on many things. These include financial constraints, childcare, or being employed. However, the study shows that the main factor for sons is whether there is someone else to give care. In fact, gender appears to be the biggest factor for how much care each sibling gives to their parents.
What are the reasons for sons being less committed to parental care than their sisters? While this is certainly no excuse, it might be because of the consequences that come with caregiving. Previous studies have shown that it can have a negative effect on the person giving the care. This includes lower physical and mental health, as well as a higher rate of mortality. Basically, caring for an aging family member can lower your quality of life.
In addition to emotional and physical consequences, caring for elderly parents has other negative aspects. It can be quite a financial strain to pay for medical bills, and other expenses. This is especially true for families that are already struggling to get by. Losing a job can spell disaster for people who are caring for an elderly parent. In addition, many people are forced to give up promising careers, to find more stable jobs. This can lead to lost earnings in the future, due to settling for work that has no chance for promotion.
Unfortunately, a largely common stereotype tends to leave caregiving to women. This might actually be working to intensify the existing inequalities between men and women. Society has been progressing to remove gender bias from other parts of live, such as in the workplace. Until recently, the unfairness that women experience with caregiving seems to have been overlooked, or simply accepted as part of life.
The information found in this study shows how important proper aged care is, for the entire family. Rather than worrying about daily care, sons and daughters might be better off spending quality time with their elderly parents. The aged care industry is seeing some great improvements, and finding the right facilities is now easier, thanks to resources like the Aged Care Reviews. Daughters of aging parents should be especially concerned with finding suitable care. The information that Grigoryeva has taken from the recent aged care survey might just be the “tip of the iceberg”. It could be a sign of an even greater inequality of genders, were female siblings are expected to give more of their time to taking care of elderly family members.