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Sort of off topic, but we all seem to be from the U.S. I often wonder how the elderly are cared for by their children in other countries. I think in China traditionally, it is the eldest son or daughter who is expected to carry this burden. And many stories about woeful duties and abuse heaped upon eldest son's WIFE.

Apparently, once the mother-in-law is being cared for by #1 son's family, she feels she has the right to turn in to a demanding monster (at least in the novels and movies I've seen...what kind of story would it make if she were kind and understanding?) I believe, however, that the family inheritance also goes to the son's family.

So, in a way, we who are now caught up in this probably feel isolated and that ours is the first generation to face this. In a way, that's true, cause ours is the first generation to experience more years of relatively healthy seniors, then a dozen years of decline and increasing total dependency. When my grandmothers died, they got sick and were gone in a few months, with a week or two in the nursing home.

If my mother had lived fifty years before, she would have probably died by age 35 of teeth infection, or shortly thereafter of infected gall bladder. OR she would have died at age 80 when her heart failed...valve and artery surgery gave her another dozen years at least.

So, anyone here "from the old country"? What's the situation.

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I am not Chinese. I was looking for examples of how other cultures viewed family caregiving, and the best place for answers, and possible lines of creating new legislation...the Healing Storytellers discussion group is where I found some answers. Someone there had actually written a paper about oursourcing Filial Responsiblity, so I knew basics from that. There was more discussion on Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Facebook page around Thanksgiving (2010). We even got into King Lear. What is happening now in Japan, Europe, and the US is that immigrants are handling caregiving. Europe they may come from Eastern Europe or Africa. Japan from Philippines...most of the respite caregivers Mom uses are from the Philippines (West Coast USA).

Chinese, I was once a buff of the really good art movies from China. Parental care was often a theme...also Amy Tan books and an odd book I read once of a man who married a kind woman with bound feet. He made her slave to care for his parents while he went about having his life, having affairs. Book ended with him loving her. oh eldest daughter would assume duty if no son, and she would inherit.
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People are idiots.

I am so sorry you had to experience that.
Are you Chinese?

I remember that scene in Zorba. haven't thought of that until now. You're right.

There's what is and what should be.
I think that we on this site know the difference but it doesn't make it any easier.

love to you and I love your knowledge about another culture. i hardly know THIS culture. such as it is.

lovbob
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Oh, sorry, didn't see that I had written about it in the question. Oh, there is new information, about the name of the virtue "filial piety." and the tales of man cutting off arm to feed parents.

Apparently smaller villages, the entire village will help with eldercare. But then think of the scene in Zorba, where he was the only person to love and visit old lady. And as soon as she breathed her last, the crones like vultures swept through her room and grabbed everything of value. Zorba standing there in disbelief...or resignation...

I find it amazing there is so little information about this, considering it is universal condition.
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I was hoping for some answers, too

Here's what I found about China, probably tradition is eroding. In traditional Chinese culture, "felial piety" (now sorta downgraded to "felial responsiblity") is the PRIME moral underpinning of society. This extends also to worship of ancestors. Virtues, that is what it is.
Traditionally the eldest son is charged with caring for parents. He marries and continues to live in parents' house. When they are younger, they would be avail to help with their grandkids. All of elder son's siblings are "free" to go find own lives, houses, etc. So now eldest son's wife catches brunt of the caregiving burden for his elderly parents...but then she might have had help raising her own children. It is legendary for the elderly senior to have sharp tongue and lash at the new wife. "Eating Bitter Herbs" is saying among women for this and other reasons (ie, like killing their own newborn baby girl). However, when that wife is elderly, she gets to be hell on wheels to her daughter-in-law.
Now, when the elderly parents die the eldest son inherits the estate, if any. So it is enslaving, but it establish tradition, and caregivers are rewarded with family estate and help raising their own kids.
Now with grown children spread all over the world, there is "outsourcing filial responsiblity," making sure that hired caregivers help parents. Or around here, Silicon Valley, importing parents to this country. I see traditional Chinese grandparents (wearing those vests so common there) walking all around town pushing baby carriage, caring for their grandkids while parents are at work.

It is great shame for child not to care for elderly parents until death. There are heroic stories of men (mostly) going to great lengths to care for parents, like chopping off arm, or working in near slavery conditions to make money to pay for proper burial of parents.

In the USA, those values are eclipsed by the myth of the RIGHT to individual freedom. We have the right to see our parents...as little as we want...never. That is what I learned firsthand when I insisted my sisters help care for their mother. "If your sister wants relationship with her mother to be thirty second phone call once a year to say HI, then that is her right." It is the LAW that told me that, public guardian. I was to stop telling them to be involved. Stop telling my own sisters to get over here and help their mother, to pay back the money they stole. They reported me to the public guardian and had me investigated. TRUE!!
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All this time and no answers?

I just found this and thought, well now we'll hear the truth behind the 'iceberg' stories.

In media, without conflict there is no story so you nailed that one right!

lovbob
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