If you were allowed to choose, who would you rather care for in your home: your mother, or your father?
Realistically, the typical family caregiver won't have the opportunity to select one parent over the other—after all, whoever needs care, needs care. (How to answer the question: Should your elderly parent live at home?)
But, the results of a recent survey have shed some intriguing light on which parent the average American adult would prefer to move in with them, and why.
Two-thirds of the people who responded to the survey, which was conducted by Visiting Angels, an in-home senior care company, confessed to preferring their mother's presence in their home, over their father's.
The reasons they cited for choosing mom: she is more likely to be helpful (86%), cleaner (73%) and easier to connect with (64%) than dad. Many adult children also expressed fears that bringing dad into their own house could potentially expose their families to inappropriate comments and unhealthy hygiene practices.
Of course, there is some question as to whether or not these stereotypes would hold true in the face of certain diagnoses, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. (Read more about providing Alzheimer's disease care at home.)
As any caregiver can attest to, gender notwithstanding, elders in the advanced stages of these ailments often have trouble keeping up with general hygiene practices and are prone to uncontrollable and inappropriate outbursts.
What do mom and dad have to say about moving in with their children's families?
In her column, "Do Aging Parents Really Want to Live with Their Adult Children?" caregiver and AgingCare.com expert, Carol Bradley Bursack, points to research that shows many seniors do not wish to move in with their adult children.
"Most of us want to be independent," Bursack says. "The idea of living with one's own children, no matter how well you get along, can be disconcerting. The intimacy of shared living space can simply mean too much of a good thing."
Unsurprisingly; "not enough room," and "lack of privacy," were also the two most common fears voiced by the men and women who were asked to consider what it would be like to move their aging parents in with them.
It's important to note that the Visiting Angels survey wasn't limited to those individuals who were actually providing care for an aging parent. It was conducted on adults over 40 who had two living parents, and was geared towards getting respondents to put themselves in the hypothetical situation of being a family caregiver.
Veteran caregivers—who actually know what living with and taking care of an elderly loved one entails—may respond differently when presented with the question: Who would you choose?