I wonder if there is a different mind set if our Mother was a career woman her whole life or if she was a stay-at-home-Mom for most or all of her marriage.

Does the elder career woman understand how busy her children's schedules are, and how little time there is to help, thus she will make better choices for her aging years? Or not?

I know my parents never caught on that when I was working 8 hours, not counting commute time, that I only had limited time to maintain my own house/yard and run my own errands on the weekends.... thus my time helping my parents was crammed into a busy schedule... I didn't have time to breathe.

I know Dad was clueless because he always came home to a clean house, ironed shirts, and a hot meal after work. He never realized I had to do all those things PLUS put in an 8-9 hour day at the office. Must be those gremlins that come out at night to do all those things :P

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Mincemeat, very insightful observation about the need to be adaptable and flexible. I would add tolerant.

I've noticed also that some women, such as home care workers, don't have that attitude. They're more dominant, and I suspect not accustomed to acting with a group of others on the same level, but rather in a more authoritative position, i.e., medical person to an elderly person patient. I've seen this also in women who move up from staff to management positions.

Your comment on the Cleaver mentality is interesting. Given that the home and childcare were their careers, perhaps it was natural that they did become more narrowly focused and elevated those positions and standards.

If they wanted to have an outside career but couldn't because of the era and lack of opportunities, it may be that they embraced their situations even more and tried to elevate them in a means of reinforcing the importance of what they were doing.

That's not to criticize anyone here who is a stay-at-home mom. It's just a reflection that not all women want the June Cleaver lifestyle, or the limitation of choices that were available vs. today when a woman can even be head of the Federal Reserve, corporation, or maybe even a President.

If anyone's mother or grandmother was a career woman during the war or the decades after that, my hat is off to them. That was a rough era to be a woman in the workplace. It still is in my humble opinion.

My mother never worked outside of the home. We were in agriculture, I was the only daughter. My mother was thrilled to send me outside to work outside so that she did not have to.

Working women learn to be adaptable and flexible. They have to. Fast forward to my own family. I have worked to support my myself and then my own family for 35 years. Yes, my mother helped me out by watching the kids part time. BUT, she was totally critical on how I raised my kids, how I did my laundry, how I kept my house, what I cooked, what kind of garden I kept and how we spent our money.

I now understand how the "June Cleaver" era of women had their standards of excellence and their inability to accept anything less. I sometimes wonder if they consider it failure to accept ANY compromise.

The women I know who were working outside the home somehow seem so much more accepting and settled in their retirement mode. I hope I can be more accepting and settled when my own kids have families.

In my grandmother's generation, both the husband and the wife worked. Both "farmer" and "farmer's wife" were full-time jobs, and financial success of the farm and of the family depended on both of them. Yes, that only applied to agricultural family, but for that generation that was nearly three-quarters of the population. Neither man nor woman worked "outside the home" -- home was also workplace. For that generation, average life expectancy was in the forties (varied by gender and by race); about 4% of the population could expect to see age 80. Of course, some people even then lived into their 90s. My grandmother did. She died in a nursing home, with "senility" the last few years.

So that is the role modeling my mother's generation saw in their past.

Our current life expectancy is nearly double what is was for my grandparents' generation, and the percentage of people who live into their 80s has also doubled. That means the number of people who suffer from chronic conditions that don't generally start until "old age" has significantly and dramatically increased.

Frankly, I think whether they were a stay-at-home mothers or career + family mothers, people of my mother's generation were simply not prepared to live as long as they are living. Their parents did not have long periods of "retirement" after their income-producing years. Their parents often did not live to need comprehensive care. That generation had limited role models in how to be old, let alone old and sick.

Just as my generation is struggling with a new phenomenon as the "sandwich generation" or the old caring for the very old.

This is pretty much new ground for every one involved. Certainly urban/rural environment has an influence on our outlooks. Stay-at-home/earn income outside of home influences us. Political and religious views influence us. But really, I think we are all just muddling through this new reality together, as best we can.

I really think there is. Homemaking and raising children was the career of women, at least before WWII and to a large extent thereafter despite women having gone to work in the war factories helping manufacture planes, parts, etc., until around the late 1960's and early 1970's when women's opportunities began to expand.

When you think about it, homemaking and child raising focus changed fairly quickly, given that women were either bound or chose these professions primarily from times hundreds of years back into history, with some exceptions of noted leaders (Deborah, Joan of Arc).

I think this is one of the issues that still dominates in caregiving - the perceived role of women as caregivers of family, regardless of age and physical condition. The next generation may see some shifting of this focus as men become househusbands, stay home and raise children while a well paid woman works to support the family.

If you think of some of the fundamentalists, especially the break-away fundamentalists in Utah, they're still entirely focused on these issues, as well as being completely dominated by a male leader who exploits his situation mercilessly. Babalou, I think these guys definitely are in denial, selfish and unreasonable, as well as perhaps having a few other issues such as domineering, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.

Although not necessarily related to gender or elder caregiving, there's a corollary to child labor and female labor, the former having been exploited so abusively during the Industrial Revolution.

My mom was a homemaker and was available to take care of a succession of ill relatives. But she certainly realized that we, her daughter and daughters in law all had full time jobs and weren't going to be available in the way that she was. I think that elders who don't see that are in some kind of denial, or are selfish and unreasonable, possibly due to a decline in cognitive skills.

I think it is a lot more complex than that. There were huge differences between rural and urban families and between the upper and lower economic class. We come from a small town/rural background, and my grandmother
(b. 1900) contributed to the family income by raising poultry and working off the farm cleaning cottages. (My grandfather also worked off the farm to bring in extra money.) My mom left home to go to work after grade 8, and she worked until she married in her late 30's. Even though single income families were the norm there were still plenty of women of her generation that were working and raising families.

I think it's the concept of elder care that has changed in the last century. Before pensions people often worked in some way until they died, they had to. My mom's last job was at "the poor house", a county run retirement home, residents were expected to work as much as they were able to contribute to their keep. There was definitely a stigma attached to those places.

Something changed in the 1960's, I think. When I was a child visiting the local "modern" retirement home it seemed a vibrant place full of people in their 70's and 80's, the men were playing pool, the women had a quilt set up, some of the residents took care of the gardens and helped to prep the food in the kitchens. Often farmers handed the farm to the next generation and went there to live a life of leisure, it was probably the first time in their lives they had a vacation!

Today the same facility is peopled with residents in their 80's to 100's, many in wheelchairs, many with obvious dementia. Yes, there were those who were very ill from stroke or other conditions, but they tended to die rather quickly. Often the sickest were in acute care hospitals... this was back in the day when people were actually kept in hospital for months, even years. People are just living longer and with much more complex conditions.

Good question......My Mom was the classic 1950s homemaker. That was the good old days when Dad went to work, made decent money, had benefits and could raise a family on one income.

I certainly don't want to minimize the work my Mom did, raising three ungrateful brats, but I know she didn't relate much to the few women of that day who had careers and raised families at the same time.

I think the attitude that many of our parents have about women being responsible for ALL caregiving is a hold over from their generation. That's the way it was. Men didn't worry about Granny, Mom, or Dad, the wife did that. Why not. She was home all day, I'm at work. That's what people of our parents generation remember. These newfangled gals with jobs and careers are letting their parents down. But as we all know, the good old days are long gone. Everybody goes to work now, many times to more than one job just to make ends meet.

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