The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai
When my aunt’s mother, Ida, reached her nineties, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Though Ida had four kids, it was my aunt who moved Ida in with her family and cared for her for two years until she passed away. While another sibling did help, the other two did not. My aunt provided at least 90% of her mother’s care.
Those were a difficult two years for my aunt, but she still talks with pride about caring for her mother. She doesn’t regret the time she spent caring for her mother. In fact, she felt it was her duty after all her mother had done for her.
What about you? Do you plan to take care of your parents when they’re older?
The American Perspective of Taking Care of Parents When They’re Older
In the American society, where we are concerned with autonomy and independence, not many of us care for the elderly. That could be because we’re busy with our own lives and careers or because we’re uncomfortable caring for our older relatives. Many also dislike having their lives inconvenienced.
Of course, some elderly who have Alzheimer’s can be particularly difficult to care for, especially if they get violent. More and more people rely on nursing homes to care for their elderly relatives in their last years.
Responsibilities in Other Countries
In other countries, taking care of older parents is an obligation.
My husband is from Japan. He is the oldest child and the only son. His parents just assumed that he would care for them in their old age, as the majority of Japanese in his parents’ generation assume about their oldest children. But then my husband moved to the United States, and we got married a few years later. We have no intentions of ever living in Japan.
His younger sister and her husband took over the obligation of caring for my husband’s parents. (His parents are only in their 60s now, so they don’t need care yet. However, his sister built her house right next to theirs because she’ll be caring for them later in life.)
Because my husband shirked his duty in his parents’ eyes, he lost the chance of receiving any inheritance from his parents. It will all go to his sister, which he’s fine with. He would rather have the freedom to live his life where he chooses instead of being saddled down in his small hometown.
Many other countries also believe that it is the child’s duty to care for elderly parents including some countries in South America and other Asian countries. While some adult children gladly accept this responsibility, others, like my husband, find it an uncomfortable obligation.
My Questions for You
If you still have parents that are living, do you plan to care for them when they are no longer able to care for themselves? If so, how do you see yourself caring for them? By helping out with the nursing home bill? By taking them into your house and physically caring for them? If you have children, would you like them to care for you when you’re older?