According to a NY Times article, two sociologists, one from Purdue and the other Cornell, have studied the family dynamics in America for almost 30 years. And, they’ve uncovered some handy tidbits besides proving that mothers have favorite children, despite taboos, and they thought that all sorts of personal history and relationship issues would factor into who wound up as caregivers for the elders. They figured it would be those children who were closest to their mothers emotionally, who had earlier received support from their mothers, and who had fewer competing demands on their time like work, spouses or children of their own. Not so: gender and proximity are the drivers. It turns out that women are 2 times more likely to be the family caregiver and the caregivers most likely to assume the role are those children who live within 2 hours of the elder–6 times more likely!
But, this is for the generation of Americans that had multiple children–a trend not carried forward predominantly in our current generation of Americans not yet in their later years. So, perhaps a light is shining on this new reality of aging: who will take care of this generation of Americans when they reach old age–they have only 1 or 2 children and many are childless. Clearly, the burden will fall on society at large, and this inevitably means the taxpayer. Now, it should be more apparent why the risk pool has to be increased, and thus, the vehicle most likely to succeed appears to be the Affordable Care Act.
- Giving Family Caregivers the Respect and Support They Deserve (aarp.org)
- Caregiving; One Family’s Story (wgntv.com)
- Huge shortage of caregivers looming (yakimaherald.com)