An interesting – but not surprising – article in AgingCare.com starts with the headline, “Daughters Care Twice as Much for Their Parents, Compared to Sons“. I am sure that title did not refer to emotional attachment, but to the level and amount of care provided to aging parents by sons and daughters. In our experience at Support for Home In-Home Care – and in my own personal experience – that is pretty accurate.
The data comes from a study by the University of Michigan, which looked at data on over 26,000 adults over 50 years of age. One comment really rings true for me, in my own family’s history: “Balancing work, family life and caregiving can require putting professional aspirations on hold, and prior research shows that female employees are quicker to sacrifice their careers on the caregiving pyre than their male counterparts; a move that can financially hamstring the entire family.”
I think back to how this out of balance caregiving probability got started in my own family. I had three sisters, two of whom did not go to college, while one went to a local school. I left Oregon and went to school in Chicago. Although I got my Masters in Oregon, I subsequently sent another 4 years in the Midwest in graduate school. During this period, my folks did not need any care, but the relationships among all of us changed as a result of my not being part of the inner, local circle. My personal passions and self-interest took me to different places – as did my career, later on – while my sisters stayed in Oregon.
Did I love my folks less than my sisters? No, I do not believe so. But, I have to recognize I was not there nearly as much as my folks aged and ultimately needed help in order to live at home. When that happened, I was the one who convinced them to accept home care, which I paid for, but it was very different from the on-going involvement of my sisters. In the case of my folks, I believe they needed both kinds of support that my sisters and I gave. I was willing to confront them about their need and was financially able to help. But in terms of pure, unselfish care, my sisters were unparalleled – and amazing.
What are your thoughts – and experiences?
Best wishes. Bert