More daughters take care of their elderly parents then son's, why is that?

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TUESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new Canadian review finds that adult daughters suffer more than adult sons from poor relationships with ailing and aging parents who need their care.

"Adult daughters place greater emphasis on their relationships with their parents, and when those relationships go awry, it takes a worse toll on the adult daughters than the adult sons," said review author Marina Bastawrous, a graduate student at the University of Toronto.

An estimated 44 million adults in the United States provide unpaid care to another adult. A 2004 study commissioned by the AARP and other organizations estimated that caregiving is more stressful on women, who make up more than six in 10 caregivers: 40 percent said caregiving stressed them at high levels, compared to just 26 percent of men.

In the new review, Bastawrous examined 42 studies that looked at the effects of caregiving on adult children who take care of their parents. More than half of the studies looked at daughters who served as caregivers.

The studies didn't allow her to draw conclusions based on numbers, Bastawrous said, so she wasn't able to provide a statistic about how much worse things are for female caregivers.

But, she said, it's clear that "things tend to be different for females."

Overall, the studies suggest that daughters suffer more than sons when they don't get along with their ailing and elderly parents. The relationships rupture, she said, when there is less cooperation, less communication and more conflict.

"The quality of the caregiving relationship often is dependent on what the relationship was earlier in life," said Barry Jacobs, a psychologist in Springfield, Pa., and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. "If you've had a bad relationship with them and felt victimized, then suddenly you're asked to step up, that caregiving role may seem like a revictimization."

Why do women get hit harder by strained relationships? "In terms of society's norms, the responsibility to care for parents tends to fall on the women," Bastawrous said. "It almost becomes ingrained as their responsibility. When they can't meet those expectations, the toll is worse on them than on sons who aren't expected to take on that role."

Men, in contrast, may not see caring for parents as their primary concern, she said.

Jacobs said there's another factor: Men who become caregivers hold on to their jobs longer than women, who are more likely to quit to take care of their parents. "Often the sons get off scot-free, and the daughters are resentful about how little their brothers are doing," Jacobs said.

In the future, the findings can be used to guide programs that help caregivers, Bastawrous said. There could be more focus on poor parent-child relationships, she said, and how they can take a heavy toll on adult children.

"They maybe need more counseling that meets those needs," she said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. population continues to get older, meaning that more children will be taking care of their parents.

The results were released Monday at the Canadian Stroke Congress in Quebec City.

I am not at all surprised by these findings. Women are the "silent majority" of caregivers at both ends: taking care of children and then taking care of elderly parents. The U.S. is woefully behind in recognizing the contribution that caregivers make. In some countries, caregivers are paid or at least they are given retirement funds for their work.
I can only speak from experience. In my family the "women folk" are expected to do all the dirty work of caregiving. If a family has all sons, then it is up to the daughter-in-law. If there are no daughters-in-law, then the parents are shipped off to a NH ASAP. My brother pops in and out whenever it is convenient for him. And yes, as much as I know that Mom is getting better care being here, I do resent having to shoulder all the repsonibility.
There are all these "hidden" aspects of caregiving that a non-caregiver may never see (or does not want to see.) There is the stress of having to make medical decisions for someone else, the midnight phone calls or trips to the ER, having to advocate for someone in the medical system, navigating endless paperwork and forms, being on call 24/7/365. Most of us never get a thank you from other family members - in fact, we get grief, suspicion, and indifference. My favorite line is "well, men are just not natural caregivers." Well if there was money to be had, men would jump at the chance.
Maybe the answer is for all women reading this post right now, who are raising sons, to educate them in caregiving in the same way we educate daughters. All children should be responsible for elder caregiving.
Women just take on too much. In the past, when women did not work outside the home, caregiving MAY have been easier. However, in 2010, women hold down a full time job, take care of their children (and sometimes, grandchildren), take care of aging parents, and fail miserably at taking care of ourselves.
Personally, I cannot do this much longer......
thanks Pirategirl, for posting this information.
Thank you so much for including the fact that our sons need to be educated in caregiving. Believe me, I never bought into that garbage that only women can caregive. I raised my son,who's now 36, that he was going to learn how to clean, cook, stand on his own with or without a woman and be there for others. Likewise I taught my daughter to be self sufficient and be there for others. When my son got married and wanted to finish getting his degree, he stayed home with his little girl and went to school at night.(I admit, I helped a lot but it was for a good cause.) When my mother required medical care at her home, he was the first one there. He cleaned up more poop than the rest of us, took gma to the dr (with little daughter in tow), repaired things around gma's house, etc. He is the no-nonsense type, get in and get it done, not too huggy-feely but the jobs get taken care of. Needless to say, I'm proud of my son and feel confident that when the time comes for me or his father to require some help and care, he and his sister will step up.
I've shared with them all the stories of self-sacrifice and unending duties from this site. The best way to get through this inevitable thing called elderly life be aware, be prepared, be educated.
AMD: cheers to you for not buying into the stereotype and raising both your children to be responsible, caring adults. I, too, bristled at these sterotypes even as a young girl. I always thought one should just be "humane" whether you were a boy or girl.
I just had a conversation with my neighbor who has 3 adult sons. Her mother lived with her family until she passed and her sons pitched in without complaint...even through those "icky" moments. However, as she ages, she says she does not want to be a "burden" on her sons because their wives would be responsible for her care. Huh? I do not understand why she does not think that they will "step up to the plate" for her. They are great boys.
I think it goes back to women being too self-sacrificing and losing ourselves in the midst.
I wish I had more answers than questions to offer. But all here, in this forum, save my sanity on a regular basis.
Today, I pray and wish that all non-caregivers in a family be present and simply ask, "what can I do?" and that caregivers give them a chance to help.
While I'm on a roll, how about not singling out the oldest daughter or d-i-l? My mother informed me when my dad was diagnosed with Alz that I, as the oldest (have 1 sibling, my sis who's 1 yr younger) was responsible for dad's and her care as they aged. Sis got a pass, wasn't even mentioned. Loving my father as I did, I'd have gone to the far ends of earth for him. But to be honest, the horrendous relationship mom and I had always had, well, it didn't get any better when she sat on her throne and gave me that command.
Thanks, had to vent!

Those edicts from the throne are absolutely amazing. I am taking a class in conversational French. My mother asked me if I would like to go to France. I said yes. She said "you can't go until I die." Where did she get that idea? So self- centered.

She is living with me while her house is being repaired after a lighting fire. Her stash of sweet rolls and Nutty Butters and oatmeal bars attracted a whole hoard of ants in my kitchen this morning. She came and yelled at me about the problem. When I pulled out all her hoard there were sticky crumbs and frosting all over the counter. I cleaned it up this morning and sprayed while she did her crossword and ate her donuts. Like I wasn't even there. Hired help.

She's been with me about 6 weeks and I feel like I'm living at the lowest possible level of survival. The dog even leaves the room when she comes in.

Why do people like that continue to exist?
I do not know why mothers are so hard on their daughters (btw, men: are fathers this hard on their sons?)
All I know is that in my family my mother's brothers never lifted a finger to help with their aging parents. It fell squarely on the shoulders of the daughters. However, when the sons came for a rare visit, my grandmother would order my mother around to fix food for the hoard. All my aunts were taught to put men on a pedestal. Men were not allowed to do "women's work" but it was okay for the women to do all the distasteful, demeaning things. I did not get along with my grandmother, mainly because of the way she treated my mom and how she showed favortism to all the male relatives. My mom is infinitely nicer than my grandmother.
In addition to teaching sons to help with their elders, it is also imperative that women do not become "women haters" of their daughters. There is that John Mayer song with the great lyrics: "Girls become lovers who turn into mothers...So mothers, be good to your daughters too."
We just need to stop the stereotypes and pitch in where we are needed regardless of gender. Life is hard enough without drawing these battle lines.
thanks for the enlightening discussion...
That's a good question, Lilli. I wouldn't want to generalize so I can't answer if men are as hard on their sons. But men more often than not get a pass in our society.
My mom disliked her mom, I never knew why. When gma could no longer live in the senior housing in another state, she had to come live with mom. What a mistake, what a nightmare! Mom was so mean to her. Looking back, I should've called APS. I've never forgotten what a monster mom was. When mom required care in her home, believe me it was hard to be civil to her knowing how evil she is. I asked her once "you didn't get along with your mother and you don't get along with me, wouldn't it be good to make some peace before it's too late?" She told me I was crazy. She also said it was elder abuse to talk to her like that - that always came up when she didn't like what I was saying. I said well you should recognize elder abuse because that's what you dished out to my grandma. Mom just never got it! It's always she's right and the world is wrong. . . or she's right and I'm wrong.
I agree. Woman or man, step up and give a hand when needed. It won't kill you, might even make you a better person.
I think that in every family the caregiving falls to the one who does not have the heart to look away. In my family, it was my Mom and a few of her sisters. My grandmother was so pushy and self-centered. But to this day, Mom thinks her mother was a saint. When I asked why she took grandma in, she said, "because I loved her." And I know she means it. If I did not step in with my Mom I know for a fact that my sib would have just looked the other way or slapped her in the nearest facility, even though she is in relatively good health.
Although, my Mom is SO much easier to deal with, she still just thinks of me as the unpaid help. Her needs come first (in her mind) and my life is secondary. I had to learn to pace myself and do the things that she really needs first. Somedays I do not really know how I am going to continue - so I just take it one day at a time. It would be soooo much easier if everyone in the family just gave a little bit of their time to help. No one would feel overburdened and everyone would benefit.
I cannot imagine how a child could just decide not to participate in caring for his or her parent. I wonder what would become of my Mom if I didn't exist. I overheard my Mother tell one of her nurses recently, "if it wasn't for my daughter I would not be here today." Of course, she would never say that to me :o)
Peace to all caregiver daughters today,
I couldn't bring myself to read this article due to the horrific errors in punctuation in the the title. In the title, the apostrophe in "sons" is incorrect. Sons is plural not possessive. It is also the wrong spelling of "then". Than is used when making a comparison such as the comparison between daughters and sons. Then is used in reference to time. For example, we will do this then that.

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