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I've been thinking a lot about the posts here and the frequent expectation that women, single or married, might compromise their careers to provide caregiving for elderly parents.

1. I've also been thinking how much women's roles have changed since WWII, and again in the late 70's and more so now that women have so many more opportunities. I wonder if during the Great Depression anyone would have anticipated that we might have a woman president or that women would be generals in the armed services.

We're caring for people who were raised during the Great Depression, WWII, and eras before women had the career potentials they have now. In some cases, women didn't anticipate marrying, moving away, moving abroad, or leaving their childhood areas.

I've been wondering how much these social changes have

(a) contributed, or enabled, the emotional conflict we women feel when our elders expect us to compromise our careers for caregiving;

(b) these changes could be viewed as enabling women to leverage their potential now to use new resources available to continue careers as well as caregive; and

(c) how men feel about these changes (broad question, yes).

2. On a related subject, I recall reading an interesting novel on Asian traditions which also addressed women being selected by their spouses with the intention that the wives would eventually have to care for the husband's elderly parents. How different that must be to the view we Western women have! And I'm wondering also how this will change now that Asian countries are becoming economic powerhouses and women are flocking to workplaces.

Thoughts, anyone? And for the record, I am totally in support of everyone having more career opportunities - but I don't think the social support network has caught up.

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It's me! A snafu of the digital type took me out for awhile. The goods folks at the site fixed it. Talk at y'all later.
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Windyridge seems to have deleted his account. All his posts are gone.
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Unfortunately, I KNOW I'm having senior moments, especially after I garden and come plodding back into the house and grab my wonderfully scented herbal muscle salve. I do remember his posts; maybe the wind blew him away?
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Yikes, I must be having a major senior moment here.... I am almost positive that Windy had some postings here on this subject, pretty good ones, too.... now this is scaring me, did I imagine those? Guess I will go sit next to Rod Sterling.
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I also find it interesting that when no daughters are in the family, the daughter-in-law becomes or expected to become the default designated caregiver in many cases. My husband and his brother have both had blind spots when oh do we have a plan comes up with narcissistic parents. Example the Parkinson's patient-mom- will not be able to manage a prostate cancer surgery patient-dad in a 2 story dwelling by herself when rehab is involved. Dysfunctional dynamics drive it too. We both work. His job pays more now but it was different prior to the autistic son I stayed home with years ago. Now son is almost out of high school. The parents moved to our state, but neither son has comprehensive list of doctors, meds, bank info, etc. I am still not Julie the cruise director (freq flyer nod!!) and not their care manager. Husband will get help from me research etc but not hands-on. He has no clue what elder caregiving requires. His family never did it for anyone at home. Other family members did, daughters, but not husband's mom or dad. My family did when I was growing up and after I moved out. Hark! Not my circus, not my monkeys (more other posters great quotes).
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Hey GA, Ya know what they say, "Your not getting old, the music just sucks "

And yes 60 is more like old codger training, but believe me I can no longer perform the amazing feats of strength and daring do that I could 10 years ago.

Wife says my old codger training is going well.....She says I'm a natural .....
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Windy, you must have posted while I was writing. No apologies necessary; I enjoy seeing how conversations wind and twist and bring in new thoughts and concepts.
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Just stepping in here for a moment to respond to these last few comments.

I do think that as we age vanity and to a lesser extent appearance become less important, just as I wrote either here or elsewhere that putting up with people with whom we don't want to affiliate is also less important. I'm generally referring to people at work who aren't particularly pleasant or cooperative, as well as strangers here and there, especially the ones with religious cards in their hands who think it's their right to try to convert anyone who walks by them.

I don't at all understand the obsession by some with plastic surgery, which in some cases is harmful to their health. I suspect there are some self image issues involved as well as possible other self esteem issues as well.

As to personal vanity, now that I'm more aware of the chemicals in cosmetics, such as lead in some lipsticks, I've stopped using them for safety and health reasons. It isn't worth ingesting lead to have red lips.

It's a bit unsettling to see physical aging changes, so workouts become more important. I'm still working on that part. That's going to be a lifelong project!

One thing I find really offensive is the approach that gyms have toward older people who want to join. Gyms, especially ones like Powerhouse, are NOT geared toward older people, not that I would want to join that one anyway. I've found only a few that do recognize that older people need to work out, but their indemnification policies are so onerous that I would never consider joining.

And the background "music" - it's not soothing, it's not restful, it's not even pleasant. To me it's just loud racket, not music.

I think a great gym would be run by a hospital (such as the ones affiliated with Providence Hospital and the DMC locally) with background music from the 30's or 40's for days or times when older folks would be working out.

One locally is affiliated with a different hospital and was so aggressive about self protection that signing an indemnification agreement was required before even getting a tour. I tried a few different times but their policy was cast in concrete.

For those who haven't been through this, the gym ownership/management want to be held harmless for anything that might occur while the client is working out or using their facilities. It's understandable in some sense, but they are responsible for maintenance of their equipment, and if the equipment is defective, they should be held responsible.

There was a Michigan case a few years ago in which a woman was injured while working out on equipment that hadn't been maintained properly. She sued the gym, but because she had signed an indemnification agreement, the court held the gym wasn't liable. So she lives with her injury caused by poor maintenance by the gym.

As to the 600 pound life, I've seen it but found it just so depressing and sad that it was too upsetting. FF is right - there typically are enabling family dynamics, and I'm sure there are a lot of self esteem and emotional issues as well.

What I find uncomfortable about these and the hoarder programs are that these people are being exploited because of physical and/or mental problems. They need help, not to be on some distorted version of an alleged reality show. (So-called reality shows are a whole 'nother story).

I'd like to see some psychological analyses of people who put themselves at risk for any variety of diseases as well as malnutrition just to get their hour or less of fame. I guess 15 minutes doesn't cut it any more - it has to be longer than that.

On the other hand, I'm sure they're not appearing for free, so maybe they are getting something out of it.

Windy, "old codger" at your age? Didn't you post somewhere that you're ONLY 60? You're a young'un in my book.
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My apologies to garden artist for taking her thoughtful topic the in this tawdry direction......
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Windy, I am glued to the "My 600 pound life" series and marvel at how some of the patients lose half of their body weight, while others still struggle just losing a couple of pound. One thing I had noticed it isn't just the patient's weight issue, but just about everyone else in the family... son weighs 750 lbs, and there is his mother weighing 450 lbs, and sister getting just as heavy, etc... and these are young people, too. Because as we get older, losing weigh becomes much more difficult.

I can see where some of the patients eventually want to give up... I have felt that way even though I have been thin all my life, the weight has shifted to areas I don't want, and I can't get rid of it, so why bother... [sigh].
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Maybe it just me, but one good thing about becoming an old codger is that our vanity takes a back seat to more important issues. I try to eat right, get some exercise and stay under 300 pounds (BTW, has anyone ever watched "My 600 pound life"? Check it out. It'll make you feel like tinker bell ) but vanity, standards get much lower as you get older. If I manage to leave to leave the house with my body covered with some sort of clothing and nothing stuck in my teeth, I'm good.....
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I just can't understand all the plastic surgery that is going on, in all age groups. I remember my grandmother being beautiful at 90 and she aged gracefully. A little lipstick and a little rouge :)
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You know, from what I see, there is a lot of pressure on both men and women. Whoever thought that men would shave their chests and underarms. Some even wax their whole body. Ouch! It is getting tougher out there for everyone to look "right." Older people know better, but younger are taught not to listen to older. I remember thinking older people didn't understand the changes. Now I realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same -- only a lot of times they get even more extreme.
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I guess for the same reason that Bruce Jenner wanted to look like a hot young woman, instead of 65 years old like he is. If he had to look his age, he would have probably stayed male.
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Yes, Jessie, you got that right.

Oh my gosh, Tom Cruise's ex-wife, Katie, was in a TV ad for age defining makeup... earth to Wall Street advertisers, she's only 36 years old. Why are we now scaring 30 somethings into looking younger?
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I saw a statistical analysis of people who shopped Walmart, Target, and two of the dollar stores. I was shocked to see that there were very few men -- like about 90% of the shopping was done by women. The more we hear things are changing, the more we realize they haven't changed at all.

I'll believe that women are finally equal when they can take off the 4-inch heels, wash their faces, and still feel good about themselves. Barbie is still alive and well.
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Windy,I think that the current generation of parents both taking equal parts in domestic chores and child rearing have a much better chance of a reasonable quality of life than we did with one person picking up a disproportionate share of the load. We talk about how hard it is for families to make ends meet, much less be able to have a parent stay home with the kids. But we also have to look critically at our parents' lifestyle. Our house was 800 sf, we had one car, no cable, cell phone bills, ate out very rarely. Diapers were cloth and kids wore hand me downs.

As to the housekeeping differences, I will venture out on a limb here and say that that is rubbish. Most of the women I know don't have time to think about washing the ceilings - they're too busy trying to make sure the bathroom is sanitary and the dishes are done. I don't see differences in laundry, for example - it's been worn, is dirty...wash it. Dishes are clean or they're dirty. To me, it's simple - we're all working outside jobs, we all live here and we all make messes, so it's logical that we all do the chores.
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Windy, LOL, we learned to super clean the house top to bottom from our Moms because that was her job description as a housewife. And as daughters we took noticed, as boring as it was at times. Imagine ironing for an hour, how exciting.

Not only did I take notice what Mom was doing, I was also shadowing my Dad which I prefer as he was using noisy tools making stuff :) So cool. Much more interesting!! At 5 years old I was fixing my own broken toys. Thus I had dual training.

You could be right about how the male sees dirt in the house... back when sig other was selling his home, his Realtor use to call me asking when was I flying back to visit, as other Realtors were complaining how dirty the house was. Oops.

My ex hubby use to use the "I will make such a mess out of this chore, she won't ever ask me again" ploy. I can still picture him wrestling with the vacuum cleaner when it grabbed a throw rug... at least he patched the hole in the wall. No, I never asked him to vacuum again, it wasn't until decades later that I learned about this best kept secret of getting out of chores :P
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Linda, thanks for you excellent post. I have met many younger women and some my age, who decided early on to ignore the Donna Reid, June Cleaver vacuuming with her pearls on, and not get trapped in the 50s. Honestly, in today's economy I can't imagine how two parents taking equal parts in family life can pull off raising children, working two or more jobs for global companies that don't give a sh*t, and having any quality of life. For single parents....well we all know hard it is.

Someone mentioned the decision to not have children. That's a whole other can of worms/debate, but I know it gives me pause when young people I know are popping out babies in this uncertain time. I often have to bite my tongue and not blurt out, "What the h*ll are you thinking".

And Flyer.....After the housekeeping lecture is the sig other living at the Days Inn. I feel sorry for the poor guy. Do you have my house bugged? I seem to remember having that exact same conversation not too long ago. What women don't understand about men's cleaning standards is men don't clean anything until we see ACTUAL dirt. (And sometimes not even then, but if it gets smelly, well then take action with the Clorox wipes) women clean as a matter of principal. "You know we haven't washed the celings in quite a while. I'll get the bucket and brushes." This is an actual quote. How'd yall get that way?
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As I watch my daughters' lives, I've come to think that the boomer generation women have been the guinea pigs in a large, social experiment. While we embraced the idea of being able to be have careers outside our home, others in our lives were still in the traditional mode. Men, having been raised in the Donna Reed model of families, were less than ready and willing to jump into the domestic chores. And so we had Collision #1 - women, who were energized by the opportunity have a wonderful career, found themselves stretching to work two fulltime jobs. Add to that the expectation of all that we were to do all the same things our mothers did, just as they did them. And while our parents praised our successes, they still had the traditional expectations of daughters. We were expected to jump in with whatever help or request our parents had, even if it was a task they could do themselves or hire out. We ran around with our Daytimers like the Energizer bunny, trying to fit in more and more. The role of caregiving to the entire clan, all three generations, still lay squarely in the lap of the women.

Now, our kids are grown, we're finding our energy flagging and our parents have greater needs. And we have Collision # 2- daughters who are pulled between their own families, jobs and home are now expected to do whatever and whenever to care for parents with no experience in the stress of juggling such things.

Reflecting back over 40 years, I'd have to say I don't feel that we've been "liberated". While we have more career options, we've been enslaved by expectations of those around us who harken from a previous social era. I'm heartened to see that my daughters have watched and learned. They've seen me trying to be all things to everyone. They've seen the struggle as I try to balance 2015 responsibilities with the 1950's parental expectations. Their spouses are more involved in domestic chores and more engaged as parents. My girls seek balance more - they are less chained by unnecessary traditions. They have better balance between their own families and our larger family.
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I remember reading on these forums where a parent had appointed their son to be the financial POA even though he had no sense of finance, instead of appointing the daughter who was a CPA. It was just the old stereotype that men are better with money.

My Dad thinks all women love to shop, including grocery shopping.... I could never get through to him how much I despise shopping. He looks at me like my hair was on fire. That just can't be true, because I am a female... [sigh].

I am so glad when I see the younger generation taking more of an equal role. More men are being stay at home Dads, thus understanding what it all takes to run a household.... that gremlins don't come out at night to do all the laundry and housekeeping.

My sig other told me last month he does as much housekeeping as I do... made me wonder in what world is he living in. I asked him when the last time he washed the windows inside and out [never].... last time he washed the kitchen floor [never]... last time he dusted all the furniture [never].... last time he washed the curtains [never]... last time he weeded the flower beds [never]... last time he mowed the yard [never].... last time he swept the deck or the garage floor [never]... last time he chased down cobwebs in the house [never].... the last time he cleaned his tub/shower/floor [never].... last time he gathered all the dirty towels and washed them [never]... last time he vacuumed the basement floor/stairway [never].... sigh.
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FYI Y'all , Pearl is from my home state of West "By God" Virginia. Also Don Knotts, Soupy Sales and Chuck Yeager ( The sound barrier guy). Not that any of this matters.............
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Carla, I have seen them; it was gut wrenching and just turned my stomach. There was also a detailed description in one of the books I read, of the preparation to soften the bones to bend them so they could be bound. I had trouble getting through that passage.
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No, GardenArtist, foot binding is no longer current practice. I think it's actually illegal now. You can see some photos online of the last surviving footbound women - they are all elderly now.
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Just a quick comment - my head is still spinning from the excellent insights and analyses being posted.

Carla, thanks for clarifying the eldest child's position on carrying for parents in the old China. I had forgotten that aspect. Buck's novels, some of which both my mother and I read, were as I recall excellent historically and culturally, and gave so much insight and perspective on Chinese culture.

I've been wondering how all the cultural changes will affect some of the more rural families, as well as the upheaval this will cause in the care of elder folks, particularly since the current regime has set its goals on much broader issues than care of parents in old age (issues such as militarization).

But at least (to the best of my knowledge), foot binding is no longer a standard practice. That's even worse than wearing high heeled shoes.
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Just a comment on the Asian traditions mentioned in the original post. At least in China, it was always the rule for the wife of the eldest son (I think) to live with the son's family and take care of the son's parents. This has been changing for a long time now, especially since women have become such a big part of the workforce in China. The recently had to pass a law requiring adult children to visit their parents. And the laws still require the children to support the parents, but it isn't always done automatically. Sometimes the parents have to sue for support. There was a NY Times story a few years back describing one family where the elderly widowed mother sued 3 or 4 children for support.

I recently read one of Pearl S. Buck's novels called East Wind, West Wind, which was written in 1930 right on the cusp of major changes. The female character marries (by parental arrangement) a man who was educated in the West, and he ultimately refuses to follow any of the old traditions, and drags his reluctant wife along with him. He moves her out of his parents' house the first time the MIL speaks a sharp word to her. Eventually the wife acquiesces in her husband's wishes (even unbinding her feet for him), and it's a very interesting story about how deep cultural beliefs and time-honored practices are pushed aside in the course of one generation. If anyone's interested.
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Remember that males still make more per hour than females for the same job, with the same qualifications. Last I heard, it was 78cents on the dollar that women make. This makes it easier for men to pay others to care for their parents, while women rarely have the discretionary funds to pay for help, so they do it all themselves. Add to that, that the person with the heart for caregiving, is sometimes not the most hard-headed financially saavy sibling. The siblings who "looked out for number ONE" have their 401K's, their retirement homes, their vacations in the bahamas, and of course they can proudly say "I worked HARD for what I've got, I EARNED it all myself!" Sure they did, to "lay up treasures on earth" for themselves, and not giving any to their aging parent or to the sibling working their life, health and future retirement away, in order to care for the parent they all shared. The caregiver is usually a woman, but the siblings who do not help at all, are both women and men. They usually have some fantasy that the caregiver is OK financially because they inherited the ancient house, or because they lived rent-free while being "on duty" 36-hour days, for years. And years. I don't know if it is women or men, or just temperament. Some people do whatever needs to be done, if no one else is doing it, they pitch in and do their best to meet whatever need is present. Other people do not sacrifice anything, have never considered it, and have built up elaborate philosophies about how sacrificing anything for anyone is bad and codependent and is not taking care of yourself first, which lets them go their merry way without any twinge of discomfort.
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GardenArtist, to your second point I learned from a professional colleague (Indian expat) that there are now many businesses in India which provide hired labor to fulfill an adult child's traditional responsibilities to parents, from delivering gifts to full-time caretaking. As career opportunities for women continue to expand there, I expect this will be a growth industry.
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It's certainly true here. My father (85) is very clear that he wants & expects me to care for him, and my brother to contribute zero to the effort. Brother was POA for Dad's sister, who passed two years ago. But nobody ever suggested he should be a hands-on caregiver, even though he was unemployed at the time she started needing care.

He laments that my brother hasn't found employment commensurate with what Dad & brother think his capabilities are (a can of poison worms). But seems quite oblivious to the damage to my career and income caused by taking time away for caregiving. I am not close to retiring, either in age or financial security, so this is a rather big deal. Also he sees my partner's lesser income as somehow making him a failure, never acknowledging that I have chosen to take this path of providing so that partner can pursue his art as a (fledgling) business.

Carla, I am right there with you re caregiving--I don't like it and I'm not good at it. I know I *can't* keep doing it if I am to remain even somewhat emotionally and mentally healthy. For all the same reasons that I decided early on not to have children.

And so we shall continue touring assisted living facilities....
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Windyridge you are a breath of fresh air. And you need to get one of those little portable Bluetooth keyboards to use with your Ipad though I think your typos may be well-tolerated or even enjoyed until you do :-)
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