Presentation on theme: "1 CAREGIVING FOR AGING PARENTS: Experiences of unmarried daughters and sons in Singapore Assoc. Prof. Kalyani K. Mehta Department of Social Work, National."— Presentation transcript:
1 CAREGIVING FOR AGING PARENTS: Experiences of unmarried daughters and sons in Singapore Assoc. Prof. Kalyani K. Mehta Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore
2 Family Caregiving Project Funded by NUS Started Sept 2006 Research team consists of Dr Ng Guat Tin, Dr Allison Rowlands (from Australia) and myself Focus on Singapore context Mixed Method Survey of 323 caregivers completed Focus Group discussions (8) of adult children and children-in-law Case studies of spousal caregivers & parents of disabled children
3 Focus on Adult Children Age 25 to 60 years Must be caring for at least one parent or parent-in-law above age 65 years The sandwich generation The economically squeezed generation Generation that is caught in the social forces of technological and value changes
4 Why Unmarried Family carers? In National Survey of Senior Citizens 1995, 24% of the principal carers were Unmarried adult children Similar to the profile of carers in Uh (as reported in the Carers 2000 document) the singles are the second largest group of adult carers of elderly, after the married. Widows, divorced and separated form the third largest group
5 Rising trend of Singles In 2003, about 15% of Singaporean resident males and females were unmarried at age 40 – 44 years. This was higher than the 10 – 11 % in 1993 Many of them are not ‘swinging’ singles but ‘stressed’ singles, who are juggling work and caregiving responsibilities
6 Experiences, struggles and coping strategies of U.F.C. U.F.C. = unmarried family carers The word unmarried is used to differentiate between the never- married and the once-married (divorced/separated/widowed)
7 Total 8 Focus group discussions Total number of FGD participants*=49 Mixed gender, income & ethnicity Marital status Married/once married = 25 Never married = 24 * Contacted from the larger pool of survey participants, snowball effort, and personal contacts
8 Understanding employer I think the most stressful part is if there is no understanding from the employer. As the elder parent’s medical condition changes, definitely it will change, and the day draws near when she becomes more dependent on you. So, anytime, the situation collapses and you need to go, you need leave. If the employer can understand sometimes, under these special circumstance, then it would help a lot.
9 I just give my life away! Bonus is affected sometimes, if you are under-performing or often late Aside from certain agencies, it is quite standard. You just give your soul away!
10 FAMILY CONFLICTS Brother contributes financially. However, he also asks for a detailed account of money spent every month!! Siblings make a symbolic visit Relatives criticise more than they help Too many suggestions – just create confusion Create Burn out! Inheritance driven concern can create unhappiness
11 No Choice! Single child Only unmarried child “My married sibs have their own families. So they don’t help much” The last child living with elderly parents - becomes the “chosen one” Filial piety Face issue Repay debt of sacrifice Failed negotiation
12 Love gets stronger 1.Between elder parent and caregiver 2.Between caregiver and his/her children “They actually see you acting it (filial responsibility) out” 3.Between caregiving couple 4.Between family system (siblings, grandparents & grandchildren etc)
13 Maid: pros and cons Pros She is the secondary caregiver, a very good one “With maids you have got to be lucky!” Cons Conflict between parent and maid Sometimes they are so unreliable They can lie * For singles, maids are very necessary otherwise the single adult cannot work and meet the daily and medical expenses ** Government levy reduced for families with elder above 60 years
14 Coping strategies Give up the full-time job temporarily Ask for some time off Seek help of siblings No lift landing so carried mother “piggy back” Find out the best bargain to save money Hire a maid (or two if you can afford it)!
15 “On my own” Single caregivers feel isolated and very emotional because they feel they are “on their own” No spouse to comfort you or be your confidant Sense of having lost out (opportunity cost) Sometimes care recipient is insensitive to caregiver’s needs
16 Resentment and Envy Emotions take a roller coaster ride “Most of my friends are still enjoying themselves. Either they have just married ot they are still travelling round the world! I’ve never really travelled to anywhere. It’s not possible to get out and go.” She is the only child and looks after her wheelchair bound father and mother who has High BP, diabetes, osteoporosis and suffered recently from a fall.
17 The satisfaction of caring I feel I have done my duty We (siblings) are more united My relationship with my parent is closer I know about ageing and symptoms of diseases so I am better prepared for my own aging journey I know about resources I can tap I understand my parent better
18 Self-growth “I know that I’m a source of blessing to my parents. That helped me to empathise with others who have similar problems” Caregiving is very personal – It is like giving blood, but blood donors also do not donate every day!