November 11, 2012

the burden of caregiving

Alma is married to and older man and has four dependent children. She gets really annoyed when people envy the fact that she doesn’t work because she works twice as hard as a working mother because the burden of care for her mother-in-law has fallen heavily onto her shoulders.

Every day Alma takes the kids to school in the morning and then drives over to her mother-in-law’s house to attend to the old lady’s personal and housekeeping needs. Every weekend she makes a special trip to perform these duties.

For this, Alma receives no payment, nor expects it. And when her own mother becomes feeble, Alma will have another burden of care foisted upon her.

Alma is following in the footsteps of her own mother who cared for Alma’s grandparents and then Alma’s father in his last years.

"A few decades ago, when most women were housewives, the burden of care was part and parcel of their lives," says Alma. "Now that most women are working, and a lot of young adults are moving long distances from their parents - often in a deliberate ploy to dump the responsibility of aged care onto the State or another sibling - I honestly she see a crisis looming in the care-giving tradition."

“It is no coincidence that aged women are the people mostly being cared for because their husbands are generally so much older and go sooner,” says Alma. "Who is going to take care of these women when they become old and frail?”

"I am very concerned about my own care in old age," sighs Alma. "My children are not likely to be following in my footsteps as a care-giver. And that’s good. I wouldn’t want to burden them with caring for me, but who is going to take care of me when I've taken care of everybody else, including my older husband?"

“Advances in medical science mean that women who would once have died from various complaints by the age of 70 are now having their lives unnaturally prolonged past 100,” says Alma, “and the burden must necessarily be borne by the State."

"Are we prepared for this?”

Read more by Alma on this subject:

  • mother-in-law care
  • primitive vs western families